Education

State Journal

December 12, 2001 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

‘I’m Stupid?’

Students have boycotted them. Others lose sleep and bite their nails before going to battle armed only with their No. 2 pencils. But some high school students in Massachusetts have turned their anxiety and anger about the state’s high-stakes exams into protest art.

Eleven girls from Brockton High School created an interactive-media exhibit called “This is A Test: A Teen Response to Standardized Testing.” It makes not- so-subtle points about the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System, a set of exams students must pass in mathematics and English in order to graduate, beginning in 2003.

Designed to look like a girl’s bedroom, the exhibit features a bed covered with hundreds of sharpened pencils, while a desk is suspended from the ceiling. Written in red letters on the desk is “Help.” Loudspeakers pipe in student voices asking questions like “My teacher didn’t teach me this; does that mean I’m stupid?”

Different MCAS levels are represented by dresser drawers labeled “warning,” “needs improvement,” or “advanced.” A blackboard asks philosophical questions students would never see on a state test, such as “What is loyalty?” The questions express the students’ view that exams can’t get at the essence of education and learning.

All of the 10th graders who worked on the project passed the MCAS. Younger students involved have not yet taken the exam.

The exhibit is touring local museums. “People have said, ‘We hear you. We feel your anxiety,’ ” said Margaret B. Tittemore, a coordinator at the Fuller Museum in Brockton who helped guide the students as they worked on the project over the summer. “It’s been great. It’s very rare that students have a voice.” Ms. Tittemore said the exhibit has been well-received.

Not everyone was so admiring, however. One written comment left by an unidentified 63-year-old woman described the girls as “lazy” and “whining” about life. It’s not clear whether she used a No. 2 pencil.

—John Gehring

A version of this article appeared in the December 12, 2001 edition of Education Week

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Achievement Webinar
How To Tackle The Biggest Hurdles To Effective Tutoring
Learn how districts overcome the three biggest challenges to implementing high-impact tutoring with fidelity: time, talent, and funding.
Content provided by Saga Education
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Reframing Behavior: Neuroscience-Based Practices for Positive Support
Reframing Behavior helps teachers see the “why” of behavior through a neuroscience lens and provides practices that fit into a school day.
Content provided by Crisis Prevention Institute
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Mathematics Webinar
Math for All: Strategies for Inclusive Instruction and Student Success
Looking for ways to make math matter for all your students? Gain strategies that help them make the connection as well as the grade.
Content provided by NMSI

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Briefly Stated: March 20, 2024
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated: March 13, 2024
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
9 min read
Education Briefly Stated: February 21, 2024
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated: February 7, 2024
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read