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First Person: Testing in Indiana

This First Person reader submission is from Ben Boruff, an English teacher at Wheeler High School in Valparaiso. He wanted to convey the frustrations exam season can bring, both for students and teachers. If you are interested in submitting your own work to be featured on Chalkbeat Indiana, please get in touch with our community editor to learn more.

Testing in Indiana

By Ben Boruff

Students sit—some slouched, others soldier-like— in front of LED lights and



A teacher—a pair of worn khakis fueled by cold coffee—paces, making short laps, looking over shoulders of kids who try desperately not to be distracted by


mice and keys,
low tops on hard linoleum floors,
and one squeeeeeeeeaky chair.

Minutes tick by,


and students’ brains unwrinkle one click at a time.


Not learning.
Not engaging.
Not discussing.
Not debating.
Their minds—like muscles—atrophy,
deteriorate into multiple choice questions that replace the nuances of life with sample passages and ignore the value of critical thought.

It is a system that offers only uncomfortable, dreamless naps to the students who finish early.

“This is a process of elimination,” says the teacher.

And the students agree.

About our First Person series:

First Person is where Chalkbeat features personal essays by educators, students, parents, and others trying to improve public education. Read our submission guidelines here.

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