Most Shared

Did you finish school before 2002? John Oliver explains how tests got a lot worse since then.

"Tests are supposed to be an assessment of skills, not a rap battle on 8-Mile road."

<span class="redactor-invisible-space"></span>

John Oliver devoted an entire segment of "Last Week Tonight" to taking on the idea of standardized testing.

Nothing sets off anxiety in the heart of a grade-school child more than the worlds "standardized testing." It's the bane of any student's existence. And recently, students, parents, and teachers alike have begun pushing back on the ever-increasing number of tests kids are subjected to.

Around the country, you'll find stories like these (and hundreds more), and it's happening without regard for political affiliation:


Growing up, most of us probably remember taking a test or two each year. But that's not the case anymore ... not by a long shot.

It turns out that kids are basically in standardized test mode constantly. And when you're busy cramming for the material that's likely to pop up on a test, you're not able to really learn.

To which Oliver responded:

Where did all these tests come from? To answer that, we need to go all the way back in time to 2002 for No Child Left Behind.

No Child Left Behind is a 2002 act of Congress that pushed standards-based education reform and set guidelines for the distribution of federal money for schools based on performance.

Former President George W. Bush in 2001 on what must have been "take your commander-in-chief to school day."

While No Child Left Behind was supported by virtually every politician in office at the time, it's become something most try to hide from — even though it's still in effect.

Whether you're looking at people on the political left or right, a "yes" vote on No Child Left Behind has become a stain on their record.

It passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 384-45.

It passed the Senate by a vote of 91-8.

(I challenge you to find major legislation that Congress can agree to at that rate these days.)

And so that brings us back to today. How do we measure progress? Tests. Lots and lots of tests.

And this is where No Child Left Behind led us astray.

In Oliver's segment, he highlights that the number of federally mandated tests has nearly tripled as the result of No Child Left Behind. Tripled!

And this doesn't even take into account all the state-level tests that students have to take.

But what's wrong with tests? For one, it creates a high-pressure atmosphere for students where they might not actually learn much.

People have questioned whether "teaching to the test" is really the best use of students' time. Also, when students are constantly put in high-stress situations, it's simply not a healthy environment.

Did you know that some test administrators are instructed on what to do if students vomit on their test booklets?

This doesn't even take into account the otherwise great students who simply aren't good test-takers.

Oliver showed a clip of a girl who was kicked out of her advanced language arts class after getting a low score on one of her standardized tests. It was absolutely heartbreaking.

These test-based standards hurt teachers, too.

Teachers are often graded on how much students' test scores improve over the course of a school year.

If standardized tests aren't good for students or teachers, who are they good for? Simple: the companies that make them.

A handful of companies have a hold on the country's standardized test industry, and this extends far beyond just school-based tests.

Of course there's money to be made. Of course there is.

With more and more parents opting out of tests, John Oliver offered those companies a challenge: Fix it.

Leah Menzies/TikTok

Leah Menzies had no idea her deceased mother was her boyfriend's kindergarten teacher.

When you start dating the love of your life, you want to share it with the people closest to you. Sadly, 18-year-old Leah Menzies couldn't do that. Her mother died when she was 7, so she would never have the chance to meet the young woman's boyfriend, Thomas McLeodd. But by a twist of fate, it turns out Thomas had already met Leah's mom when he was just 3 years old. Leah's mom was Thomas' kindergarten teacher.

The couple, who have been dating for seven months, made this realization during a visit to McCleodd's house. When Menzies went to meet his family for the first time, his mom (in true mom fashion) insisted on showing her a picture of him making a goofy face. When they brought out the picture, McLeodd recognized the face of his teacher as that of his girlfriend's mother.

Menzies posted about the realization moment on TikTok. "Me thinking my mum (who died when I was 7) will never meet my future boyfriend," she wrote on the video. The video shows her and McLeodd together, then flashes to the kindergarten class picture.

“He opens this album and then suddenly, he’s like, ‘Oh my God. Oh my God — over and over again,” Menzies told TODAY. “I couldn’t figure out why he was being so dramatic.”

Obviously, Menzies is taking great comfort in knowing that even though her mother is no longer here, they can still maintain a connection. I know how important it was for me to have my mom accept my partner, and there would definitely be something missing if she wasn't here to share in my joy. It's also really incredible to know that Menzies' mother had a hand in making McLeodd the person he is today, even if it was only a small part.

@speccylee

Found out through this photo in his photo album. A moment straight out of a movie 🥲

♬ iris - 🫶

“It’s incredible that that she knew him," Menzies said. "What gets me is that she was standing with my future boyfriend and she had no idea.”

Since he was only 3, McLeodd has no actual memory of Menzies' mother. But his own mother remembers her as “kind and really gentle.”

The TikTok has understandably gone viral and the comments are so sweet and positive.

"No the chills I got omggg."

"This is the cutest thing I have watched."

"It’s as if she remembered some significance about him and sent him to you. Love fate 😍✨"

In the caption of the video, she said that discovering the connection between her boyfriend and her mom was "straight out of a movie." And if you're into romantic comedies, you're definitely nodding along right now.

Menzies and McLeodd made a follow-up TikTok to address everyone's positive response to their initial video and it's just as sweet. The young couple sits together and addresses some of the questions they noticed pop up. People were confused that they kept saying McLeodd was in kindergarten but only 3 years old when he was in Menzies' mother's class. The couple is Australian and Menzies explained that it's the equivalent of American preschool.

They also clarified that although they went to high school together and kind of knew of the other's existence, they didn't really get to know each other until they started dating seven months ago. So no, they truly had no idea that her mother was his teacher. Menzies revealed that she "didn't actually know that my mum taught at kindergarten."

"I just knew she was a teacher," she explained.

She made him act out his reaction to seeing the photo, saying he was "speechless," and when she looked at the photo she started crying. McLeodd recognized her mother because of the pictures Menzies keeps in her room. Cue the "awws," because this is so cute, I'm kvelling.

A simple solution for all ages, really.

School should feel like a safe space. But after the tragic news of yet another mass shooting, many children are scared to death. As a parent or a teacher, it can be an arduous task helping young minds to unpack such unthinkable monstrosities. Especially when, in all honesty, the adults are also terrified.

Katelyn Campbell, a clinical psychologist in South Carolina, worked with elementary school children in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shooting. She recently shared a simple idea that helped then, in hopes that it might help now.

The psychologist tweeted, “We had our kids draw pictures of scenery that made them feel calm—we then hung them up around the school—to make the ‘other kids who were scared’ have something calm to look at.”



“Kids, like adults, want to feel helpful when they feel helpless,” she continued, saying that drawing gave them something useful to do.

Keep Reading Show less

It can be hard to find hope in hard times, but we have examples of humanity all around us.

I almost didn't create this post this week.

As the U.S. reels from yet another horrendous school massacre, barely on the heels of the Buffalo grocery store shooting and the Laguna Woods church shooting reminding us that gun violence follows us everywhere in this country, I find myself in a familiar state of anger and grief and frustration. One time would be too much. Every time, it's too much. And yet it keeps happening over and over and over again.

I've written article after article about gun violence. I've engaged in every debate under the sun. I've joined advocacy groups, written to lawmakers, donated to organizations trying to stop the carnage, and here we are again. Round and round we go.

It's hard not to lose hope. It would be easy to let the fuming rage consume every bit of joy and calm and light that we so desperately want and need. But we have to find a balance.

Keep Reading Show less