Fourth Grader Eloquently Destroys Purpose of Florida’s Standardized Testing

In schools across America students are being forced to spend more and more time preparing for standardized tests that are supposed to determine how successful the school is and how smart the students are. However, the time being taken to prepare for the standardized tests takes away from valuable classroom learning time. In some schools, students are even losing their recess time to testing preparation. This may sound trivial but I ask you adults how you feel when you are forced to work through your normal break times and how efficient are you if you don’t have a chance to relax or unwind?

The public schools my granddaughter has attended spent at least a week preparing for the standardized tests and then several more days in taking the tests. From the things she has told me, the tests have little to do with what she is actually learning in school.

Many parents have complained about the standardized testing, but their complaints are generally ignored by school board officials. However, the nation is paying attention to the complaint made by Sydney Smoot of Brooksville, Florida.

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Smoot delivered a very eloquent tirade against standardized testing at a recent school board meeting. What makes her deliverance so noticeable is that Smoot is only 9 years old and in the fourth grade.

With the composure of a seasoned public speaker, Smoot walked up to the podium, faced the school board and said:

“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.”

“First of all, I do not feel good about a form in the FSA that you have to sign assuring you can’t even discuss the test with your parents,” she said. “I have the right to talk to my parents about any and everything related to school and my education.”

“Second, why am I being forced to take a test that hasn’t even been tested on students here in Florida? So how could it be accurate and valid on what I know? Why are taking most of the year stressing and prepping for one test at the end of the year when we should be taking tests throughout the year that really measure our abilities?”

“My opinion is we should take a test at the beginning of the year, middle and end of the school year to accurately measure what we know. Third, the stress and pressure this testing puts on me and I’m sure most students is not healthy.”

“Why should we have so much stress about one test when we should be learning and having fun in school? … Fun things such as recess are being eliminated because of all the training for the test!”

She ended by telling the school board to stop standardized testing and then encouraging everyone else to contact the governor and tell him to stop the standardized testing in Florida’s schools.

Sydney Smoot received a standing ovation from everyone in attendance as she finished her speech and returned to her seat.

My first thought was how much of the girl’s statement was hers and what part was her parents? Jennifer Smoot, Sydney’s mother, said that she only helped her daughter organize her thoughts, but her daughter was responsible for the material covered and the wording. She went on to tell the local media:

“You can be brave and you can stand up for what you believe in. If one 9-year-old child can, than so can all these others and parents.”

“She’s just a natural at it. I could never be that way, but I’m so blessed that she is.”

At least one school board member, Beth Narverud, was listening to the young girl and took what she said to heart. She is urging everyone to contact their politicians at the state capital and asked them to ease up on the current testing requirements. She also spoke to the local media, saying:

“Hopefully they will remove any penalties, or ramifications because we’ve asked for that. Don’t hold it against the teacher. Don’t hold it against the schools. Don’t hold it against the students.”

After her impressive presence before the school board, Sydney Smoot was asked what her future ambitions are. She responded:

“I want to run for president or I want to be a teacher.”

After watching the video of her address to the school board, I would not be surprised to see the name of Sydney Smoot bantered around in the political arena in the future.

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