Feeling Crushed By Tests At Age 11

How a model North Carolina district struggles under state-exam pressures

At first, fifth-grader Edward Lynch didn't pay much attention to his teacher's warnings about the big tests the class would take at the end of the school year. But two weeks before North Carolina's first-ever elementary-promotion exams, Edward says he's scared. He's a B student but an erratic test taker. "The other night I had a dream my books were squishing me and pencils were stabbing me," says the 11-year-old. His classmate West Bullock says, "I have friends who throw up the night before tests." Their teacher, Kelly Allen, worries that half her 21 students in the old mill town of...

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