Erin Sharaf, Such an important question
Your question is such an important one and one that many people of all ages are struggling with right now. There has been a dramatic rise in mental illness among young people in the past few decades and some theorize that conventional schooling, with all of its pressures and comparisons, is contributing.
Most schools start too early for kids who are hardwired to get lots of sleep and who are biologically predisposed to stay up late at night and wake up later in the morning. Most school start times are for the convenience of the adults, not what's best for the kids. This leaves lots of young people chronically fatigued or even frankly exhausted which just compounds the effects of stress.
Many believe that the current system is due for a course-correction where we re-emphasize things like play, creativity, joy for its own sake, cooperation and connection. True human flourishing is much more complex and nuanced than any standardized test can measure and real success can only be defined individually, based on what is important to us based on our own innate and individual gifts and desires. It is my hope that the work world is also transforming where we are not encouraging the next generation to work themselves into illness and exhaustion. That's one reason why practices such as mindfulness and self-compassion are popping up in schools and workplaces throughout the country. There's an increasing recognition that we've created a culture of striving and stress and if so many people are unhappy (especially our children), what's it all for?
I love that you are asking these big questions and open to finding peace and freedom for your daughter. I would not presume to try and tell you what's best for your family but I would encourage you to give yourself and your daughter a bit more grace and ease in the day-to-day. It's all so fleeting and precious and at the end of it all, I don't think either of you will remember whether or not she got an A or a B on any of these exams.