Students say: ‘Pressure? What pressure?’

Jay Matthews:

We have had a lively debate in the Washington area, and other regions blessed with competitive high schools, about the demands we make on students.
Much of the talk has been about the documentary “Race to Nowhere.” The film’s creator, Vicki Abeles, told me its popularity is proof of a “silent epidemic” of “pressure-cooker education” nationally.
How much academic stress do students feel? Hart Research Associates just asked them. The answer was: not a lot. Of a representative sample of the high school Class of 2010, 69 percent said the requirements for graduating, including tests and courses, were “easy” or “very easy.” And 47 percent said they totally or mainly wish they had worked harder in high school. An additional 16 percent partially feel that way.
The Hart poll, done for the College Board, was not inspired by discussions of “Race to Nowhere,” College Board officials say, but it is relevant. It includes a question about the Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate programs; those college-level courses and extra-long final exams that are often said to be crushing our youth.