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New Twist on Permission Slips: For High-Stakes Testing?

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Test-taking produces anxiety for many children. For some, it creates high anxiety.

Shouldn't parents be asked to sign permission slips for their children to undergo the high-stakes academic testing of rigorous standardized exams?

That's the question posed by John Thompson, writing a guest post for Education Week's Living in Dialogue blog. He also asks, "Are High Stakes Tests Here to Stay?"

With his background as a historian, lobbyist and inner city teacher, Thompson riffs on the Feb. 6 New York Times article called "Why Can Some Kids Handle Pressure While Others Fall Apart?," by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman.

For children who are extremely sensitive to testing, could exposure to these kinds of tests be hazardous to their mental health? Is this the way we can best prepare them for the stresses of the "real world," where adults may be exposed to high-stakes stresses on a daily basis?

While Bronson and Merryman examine the biology of stress and the "Warrior vs. Worrier" approach to a challenge, Thompson hones in on their position that "High stakes testing isn't going away."

His conclusion:

"The response of 'High-Stakes Academic Testing Isn't Going Away!,' says all we need to know about 'reformers'' disregard for educational values. Competition trumps the exchange of ideas. So, get over it. Parents, it might be your child who is 'particularly ill suited' for high-stakes testing in 3rd grade. But, we'll teach her to get over it. Teachers, you might not like to impose so much anxiety on children. But, 'High-Stakes Academic Testing Isn't Going Away!' so, get over it."

What do you think? Should parents be asked for their permission to test their children? Or not?

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