This is so true!! I tended to ignore the state requirements (I teach English). I made sure I covered the concepts, but I would find my own material and new ways to get them thinking, writing, and reading. In a 66% poverty school with at least 33% ESL (Spanish speaking) students, I had a 94-97% pass rate for the state tests. In my ESL writing lab, 90% of my students passed the writing part of the test. If we can get them focused on THINKING and exploring, they can go further in life. The author is right - these state tests have a narrow focus on skills. Sometimes they have to learn something, "just because you need to know it," but they are more enthusiastic when they can see how the skills used in learning something will help them later in life.