To whom it should concern:
I felt the bubbles fill my stomach, riding up my torso until they found residence at the back of my throat. It was my first day of high school, and as warm as it was, a cold sweat broke out on my forehead. Midwood High School’s towering facade pushed me further into the confines of my cropped jeans jacket. With my head down, and a tight grip on my backpack I walked through the doors of the lobby full of uncertainty, but also wonder and curiosity.
I no longer harbor those same feelings that come along with venturing into the unknown. As school became my priority, I grew to learn what to expect from most of my classes: tests. My own curiosity always drove me to learn, but I noticed that my school neglected to instill in its students a love for what they were being taught.
I am not alone when I say that a standardized test does not reflect the elements of my being. No score can judge my intellect, yet this is how the education system is designed if you wish to move on beyond high school. When teachers remind us of what will look good for colleges, everything just feels like a set up. I take Advanced Placement classes because I know this is what colleges look at. I have fallen into this backwards method that teaches students how to test and impress before inciting in them how fun it can be to learn.
Please tell me why College Board charges $93 just to take an AP exam. Explain to me why students at my school are automatically given a 70 in their AP class and charged a $15 fee if they do not take the exam. Opting out of testing is virtually not an option. Then explain to me why I was foolish enough to take three AP classes this year. I want to enjoy the classes I’m taking, so why should they come with a cost?
Testing to check comprehension affects other classes as well. “Regents classes”, for one, are classes with curriculum geared exclusively toward content of the state’s Regents exams. Instead of being taught to love and understand math and literature, some are programmed to remember how to integrate a function and recognize context clues in an essay. We are taught to act as machines whose main goal is to ace exams and make teachers and the school look outstanding. With so much emphasis placed on testing, I question how much room is truly left over for genuine learning.
The biggest problem I have deals with the ever growing divide standardized tests create between the rich and the poor. Students from more affluent backgrounds perform better because of their access to greater opportunities and resources. Students with parents who have a degree often score higher than those whose parents don’t have one. In essence, the SAT is a better measure of family income than intelligence, yet it and similar modes of testing still prevail.
Allow students to show that they are intelligent through much more than a comprehensive score and GPA.
I wish I can just say “do better” and have the education system release its heavy reliance on testing. The problem is that a lot of administrators seem driven by test scores and not by the potential and success of their students. When did the former become more important than the latter?