Students Influence Education Policy
Passerby in downtown Providence jumped, startled, as a ghoulish-looking crowd of young people turned the corner of Kennedy Plaza. Green skin shined, sunken eyes stared, and torn, blood-spattered clothes dragged as they shuffled down Westminster Street. These dreadful-looking young men and women gathered at the entrance to the Rhode Island Department of Education, where, instead of battering down the door in search of brains, these zombies showed they had plenty already. One demonstrator stepped forward, megaphone in hand. “We are here to protest the use of high-stakes standardized testing, and the zombifying effects it is having on our state’s young people,” he proclaimed. This passage, which appears on page 135 of More Than a Score: The New Uprising Against High-Stakes Testing, is one of many examples of the growing push back against high-stakes testing occurring throughout our nation. As a postscript to the story of this student protest, in June 2014, the Rhode Island General Assembly passed legislation placing a three-year moratorium on the use of standardized testing as a graduation requirement. During the debate prior to the voting, many legislators explained that the student activism had changed their thinking on the issue.