LAST week was baby’s first MCAS exam. My third-grade daughter, after months of preparation, sat down in front of a thick booklet to answer reading comprehension questions. She experienced the rituals of test-taking, the exhortations NOT TO TURN THE PAGE UNTIL SHE WAS TOLD. She felt the pressure of performance, passed from public to administration to principal to teacher, all the way down to the students in metal chairs.
Watching her handle that pressure — drilling, for weeks on end — was tough. On the other hand, those drills involved reading texts, understanding them, and answering open-ended questions, which aren’t such terrible skills to practice over and over again.