Accountability Creativity Kansas Standardized Testing Testing

A Student in Kansas Writes about How Standardized Testing Makes Her Feel

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Kevin Bosworth, a teacher at Olathe East High School in Olathe, Kansas, wrote to tell me about a class discussion of grades and tests. A student shared her poem with the class, and Kevin shared it with me. The reformers and disrupters now say they are intrigued with social and emotional learning. Let them read this and see what they have learned.


Hello my name is worthless

Name number and date

State your class and hour

Let the rubric pick your fate


Your value as a human

Can be measured by percent

All that matters is the value

That the numbers represent


We promise that you matter

You’re more than just a grade

But you better score one hundred

Or else you won’t get paid


They require our attendance

We’re brain dead taking notes

So we can barf back up the knowledge

That they shove down our throats


Each human life is precious

And every childhood has worth

But if you fill in the wrong bubbles

Then you don’t belong on earth


They question our depression

They wonder why we’re stressed

When our futures are decided

Doing better on a test


They tell me that I’m gifted

That there’s no need to despair

But if you only read the numbers

I’m a living waste of air


I might think I have talents

But there’s no worth in art

Because it can’t be measured

By a number on a chart


The people say I’m flying

The numbers say I’ll crash

My letter grades ‘ll prove it

I’m worthless human trash

They use standardized procedures

To find the worth of kids

But I don’t fit in boxes

Without spilling out the lids


Some kids don’t fit the system

But differences can’t stay

They put us in the garbage

And throw it all away


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