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First exam

The new pencils smelling of shavings from the sharpener. The new notebooks with endless clean pages ready for anything. The first days of school are as full of promise as of lament for summer's end.

Will teachers beckon to the promise instead of blight it? Will parents share in it instead of fail to see it's there? Will students hang on to it beyond the first boring assignment?

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These are a few of the questions on which everybody's back-to-school exam is going to be graded.