Unhappy 4th Grader’s ‘Testing’ Speech Jolts Florida School Board


Sydney Smoot, the 9-year-old fourth grade student, recently delivered a speech about Florida’s new standardized test, the Florida Standards Assessment (FSA), in front of the Hernando County School Board. The powerful and emphatic speech about the dangerous impacts the FSA is having on students has since gone viral.

In her speech, Smoot said the test doesn’t measure her abilities accurately and is stressful for no good reason. “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 neither the teacher or myself will be able to see the grade of until the school year is already over. I do not think all this FSA testing is accurate to tell how successful I am. It doesn’t take into account all of my knowledge and abilities, just a small percentage.”

“Here are my concerns. First of all, I do not feel good about a form on the FSA that you have to sign assuring that you can’t even discuss the test with your parents. I am not comfortable signing something like this. 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 can it be accurate and valid on what I know? Why are we 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 ability? My opinion is that 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 that 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? With all this testing in school, more fun things in school such as recess are being eliminated because of all the training for the test.”

Smoot’s speech got a standing ovation. The short video is worth watching…

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  1. Last year i started back at college again, one of the features i like is the fact that every 6 weeks or so (depending on “term time”) we have a small assessment, it’s comprised of the things we have learned over the last 6 weeks plus a small smattering of things we learned since we started and at least one thing we haven’t been told yet. The assessments are always graded with a -1 to the total so including the “surprise question” it’s possible to mark 21 out of 20 points (for example), sometimes a single question will also be worth more than one point.
    Our tutor keeps a named digital copy of our assessments as a record of how well we know certain areas on an individual level and often annotate the returned paper with the correct answer when wrong.
    This process usually takes up a single slot per subject throughout one lesson each, spread around the week. We know well in advance when we will have one and are free to pursue subject activities elsewhere once finished until the lesson time is over.
    I’ve found this system to be quite well paced and informative without being some kind of final judgement, although i’m not advocating that this could work for all age groups but it seems like a more forgiving alternative that allows the teacher to know exactly where each student does or doesn’t understand something. (assessment 7 / 8 is our final exam of the year).
    Oh and each assessment is internal meaning that it’s actually created by the teacher of that subject so long as the material meets the intended curriculum (in small chunks at a time.)

  2. Sorry that you had to stand up to them kid. Yes it does seem pointless at times. If you really feel that your school is wrong, all you have to do is home school. I say this so that if you home school, then other students may take on your example. You could start a massive fire in this world of ours if you chose. All you need is the courage and the willpower.

    • I had 1 year and 2 months of school left before the exam for secondary school certificate, because it was too stressfool and pointless. I’ve done a hard school for likely 4 years and was not able to finish it. It sucks.
      I still can’t sleep at night , even if it’s been a month I left.
      I know I will regret my decision, but I think my health goes first.


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