By Edwin Mayorga & Seth Rader

This year marks the first year that all New York City public school students in grades three to eight are required to take state tests in English Language Arts (ELA) and math. These are called “high-stakes” tests because for many kids not passing could mean going to summer school or being held back.

Kids around the country are facing annual testing in reading and math because of the No Child Left Behind Act. And in California parents and students are filing a court case against state education leaders because of a new test that high school seniors must pass in order to graduate.

A seventh grade class in East Harlem had a variety of opinions about the tests. One student described the stress she experienced: “Sometimes state tests make me feel a bit nervous in school, like in the middle of the test I can feel the walls come in and gravity pushing down on me.”

Many students felt that if they did not have state tests, there would be more time for activities such as art, music and physical activities. This would make kids want to stay in school. The majority of this class felt that there are better ways of evaluating what students have learned.

But some students felt that without the tests students wouldn’t work hard. “If we didn’t have state tests, kids would not worry about what we need to learn,” said another student.

What would school be like without these tests? Tell us your opinion. Write to indykids@indymedia.org.