Poet Can't Answer Tough Standardized Test Questions On Her Own Poetry

Poet Sara Holbrook slams impossible standardized tests after she found herself incapable of answering questions on poems that she had written herself.

Poet Sara Holbrook had a flash of panic when she realized she couldn’t answer the questions on poems that she had written herself.  

Some of Holbrook’s poems were used in the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, a series of state-mandated standardized tests used in Texas primary and secondary schools to assess a student's achievements and knowledge learned in the grade level.

“When I realized I couldn’t answer the questions posed about two of my own poems on the Texas state assessment tests (STAAR Test), I had a flash of panic — oh, no! Not smart enough,” said Holbrook.

The poet says that test makers are for-profit organizations and that the teachers are trying to survive as they are tasked with teaching kids how to take these tests, which they do by digging through past tests, posted online.

Holbrook apparently received an email from an eighth-grade English teacher who asked specific test questions she had difficulty answering and was trying to figure out the test maker’s interpretation of her poem.

About her stressful experience with Texas State Assessment the poet said, “Kids’ futures and the evaluations of their teachers will be based on their ability to guess the so-called correct answer to made up questions.”

The poet urged parents to "stand up and say, no more" as she thinks it is the only way to stop this "nonsense." Holbrook says that results that can easily be predicated by an algorithm, is not education. She persuades parents to stand up against this practice, and not let their children be judged by random question scored by slackers.

“Any test that questions the motivations of the author without asking the author is a big baloney sandwich. Mostly test makers do this to dead people who can’t protest, but I’m not dead. I protest,” said Holbrook. 

Many Twitter users agreed with the poet’s stance:


Holbrook’s piece came a day before a Texas Education Agency report was released grading Texas schools using a new A-F letter grade rating system based heavily on state standardized test performance. 

Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters, Aly Song

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