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Poet Can’t Answer Texas Standardized Test Question About Own Poem

Imagine you have a question about you, or something you did on a standardized test. Now imagine you see the question, and the 4 choices given to you, and you can’t answer the question. Well, that happened to poet Sara Holbrook.

Holbrook wrote an article for The Huffington Post (which you can find here) where she explains:

“These test questions were just made up, and tragically, incomprehensibly, kids’ futures and the evaluations of their teachers will be based on their ability to guess the so-called correct answer to made up questions.”

The issue was brought to her attention by a teacher with the following letter:

“Hello Mrs. Holbrook. My name is Sean, and I’m an 8th grade English teacher in Texas. I’m attempting to decipher the number of stanzas in your poem, ‘Midnight’. This isn’t clear from the formatting in our most recent benchmark. The assessment asks the following question:

“Dividing the poem into two stanzas allows the poet to―

A) compare the speaker’s schedule with the train’s schedule.

B ) ask questions to keep the reader guessing about what will happen

C) contrast the speaker’s feelings about weekends and Mondays

D) incorporate reminders for the reader about where the action takes place.

The answer is C) to contrast the speaker’s feelings about weekends and Mondays.

How many stanzas are in this poem? Where are they located? I would appreciate your help. Thank you so much!”

She goes on to explain that the test prep material didn’t insert the stanza break and that she only put the break where she did because that’s where she paused when she read the poem out loud because she’s actually a performance poet.

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