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Tests are a part of life

By Mary Scott Hunter

No one likes standardized tests. My kids don’t. But the truth is, just like in life, tests are a necessary part of school.

In a couple of months your child and his or her classmates will take the ACT Aspire. It’s a scene that will repeat itself in classrooms and gymnasiums across the state.

My children will be among those sitting for the exam.

My youngest is in the third grade. This will be his first major test. My other children are old pros at this point. In fact, my eldest has taken the exam every year it has been offered.

At this point, I know what to expect on test day. My children will beg me to let them call in sick, but my husband and I will remain resolute. We will make sure that all three of our kids are well rested for the several nights before the test, eat a good dinner and breakfast and are on time to school.

Tests are hard, but so is life. Sometimes you just have to buck up and do things that scare you.

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While I am the only member of the Alabama State Board of Education that currently has children in public school taking the test, several of my colleagues have grandchildren. All of us want a good test.

Every single year, we seem to have a big debate right before testing time about whether it is a good idea or not. I shudder at this conversation every time.

It’s terrible to second-guess yourself. Especially right before a big event like a test.

We replaced the state’s previous end-of-year exam, the Alabama Reading and Math Test, because we believed that the ACT Aspire would more accurately tell us how our children are learning in school. We wanted an assessment that would help teachers identify students who need additional help to get on the right track toward college and career readiness before it becomes too late.

There are rumors, of course, that Alabama may be moving away from the ACT Aspire next year. And, the truth is, that’s a possibility over the next couple of years. Nevertheless, the ACT Aspire will be administered this Spring as planned.

The goal of every school is to prepare children for success after they graduate from high school. Regardless of what the State Board of Education decides in the future about the ACT Aspire, there will be an end-of-year assessment given to students to provide parents with feedback on how our schools are preparing our children. This is true in every state in the nation.

Earning an education in Alabama schools should mean something, and, just like in life, tests help make sure we stay on track. Otherwise, a diploma in Alabama will be nothing more than the equivalent of a participation trophy in little league baseball.

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We deserve more than that. And, I won’t let it happen on my watch.

Mary Scott Hunter represents the 8th District on the Alabama State Board of Education. She and her husband Jon live in Huntsville where their children attend public school.

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