Is Passing a Class Important?

I'm not a big fan of testing. Never have been, even as a student. But, the quote below has me rethinking my stance on testing, being in a classroom and being successful in the future. This is from Karel Holloway of the Dallas News.
Students who pass the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills and their classes would attend class for fewer days, essentially earning extra days of summer vacation. [Article Link]

In most states there is a group of people (not necessarily educators) who determine what knowledge and skills children should have by a certain age or grade. Those tests usually determine whether or not someone can graduate and if the school is being successful.

My thought, based on the quote, is why do we need schools and classrooms? Students simply need to pass a test to be proficient. That knowledge can be imparted in so many ways. Camps, life experience, online, and so many others. What good is simply sitting in a classroom? Why do they need that to pass the test?

Let's tell them what they need to know upfront and give the test several times a year. Once they pass it, they can choose the course of action they want.
  • They can continue learning in a flexible environment that lets them work on the next grade level test in an age-appropriate setting.
  • They can choose to take some time off from school and pursue learning on their own while waiting for the next traditional school year.
  • They can choose to do some career exploration and on-the-job training.
  • Add your own creative solution in the comments.
I think I'll let my students choose their own grades for this last quarter. I give them tons of feedback, they know what they are supposed to be learning and they know that they are meeting the skills necessary for the wonderful state of Minnesota.


  1. I'm not sure if 'passing a class' or a 'test' is necessarily important, but rather having a solid grasp of the important concepts sure is. For example, it's not a wise choice to simply pass an Algebra 1 student on to the next class if he/she does not have a firm grasp of the content. It would be setting him/her up for failure at the next level. So, while I understand your take on de-emphasizing a single test score, I don't know if the idea can be generalized too much.


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