A fourth grade student from Brooksville Elementary in Florida may not be tall enough to reach the top of the podium at a recent school board meeting. However, that didn’t stop her from giving a speech that left many in the room speechless or standing with applause. The young girl spoke directly to school board members about why she feels state testing undermines education and why Florida should reconsider the common core testing protocol for students.
In the video uploaded to Youtube, fourth grade student Sydney Smoot presented a well-written plan for incorporating testing into schools without causing stress and undue hardship on students. Young Sydney told those at the meeting that end-of-year testing was a stressful time for students. One single test was used to determine if a student was a failure or success and turned students into nothing but numbers.
“This testing looks at me as a number. One test defines me as either a failure or a success through a numbered rubric. One test at the end of the year that the teacher or myself will not even see the grade until after the school year is already over. I do not feel that all this FSA testing is accurate to tell how successful I am. It doesn’t take in account all of my knowledge and abilities, just a small percentage.”
Sydney points out that the test does not showcase all she has learned in the year, but rather judges her based on a standard that is set by an outside party not within the Florida public school system. Sydney also says she is not comfortable signing the testing documentation that comes with the form as it informs students that they cannot discuss the test with anyone, even their parents. Sydney says she should be able to discuss anything regarding her education and school with her parents and that the form was not something she was comfortable signing each year.
“I do not feel good about a form in the FSA that you have to sign ensuring that you can’t even discuss the test with your parents. I am not comfortable signing something like this. I have the right to talk to my parents about any and everything related to school and my education.”
Though Sydney had criticism for the school board regarding the common core testing, she also was able to offer some solid solutions she feels would better quantify a student’s education while not causing the unneeded stress. Sydney suggests splitting the test up into three segments throughout the year. She says that this would allow teachers to see how students were doing throughout the year when it mattered most.
What do you think of the fourth grader’s concerns about common core testing?