Standardized tests. Class rank. These are all words that make the regular high school student cringe. Why? Because these numbers play such an influential role in their future for college admissions.
As I am a senior coming to the end of these four stressful years known as high school, I have realized how these arbitrary numbers in our education can have such a negative impact on students’ mindsets.
The intent of standardized testing is not wrong because it ensures teacher accountability, allows for comparison between students and schools, and assures that students are reaching certain assessment levels.
However, the actual effects are being overlooked by educators and policy makers. The National Research Council in 2011 carried out a nine year study on the effects of standardized testing. It found that this type of testing yielded little knowledge, and instead resulted in significant harm.
The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) was a perfect example of how these tests could be misused. Standardized tests can cause narrowing of the teaching curriculum to focus solely on the material on the test administered, driving teachers out of school, and eliminating critical thinking and student involvement.
Being ingrained in a high school with such a high pressure to succeed and obtain A’s has had detrimental consequences for our students.
Many students pile on Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate classes in hopes to keep up with their peers’ class ranks, while disregarding to think about their own abilities and interests. Too often are students taking advanced classes that they hate just to achieve the GPA boost. However, this is not what education should encourage.
Coming to school should be exciting. It should foster an interest and passion for students to learn and solve issues within our world. Instead, school causes students to hate learning because it is associated with unwanted high pressures and stress.
This pervasive issue affects students all over the country. Denise Reynolds performed a study on 787 teens in 2006 to figure out if students were feeling a high pressure to succeed in school. She found that 44% of teens, “say they feel strong pressure to succeed.” 80% of students in the survey, “feel that success is important, no matter what the cost and that it does not improve once someone gets out of school and into the workforce.”
It is sad that the majority of students have a bleak outlook for their future because of the demands they deal with in school. Along with these stressful demands come the various unethical ways that students cope.
Society deems cheating and taking drugs as immoral. Ironically, a societal institution – school – is a major contributor to these unethical uses.
According to an article on the Boston Globe, written by James M. Lang, 75% of college students admit to cheating. 3/4 of people who are getting educated have succumbed to this unethical way in order to keep up with their peers and this societal pressure to constantly succeed.
The atmosphere of education has gradually become more stressful. Due to these numerical ways to evaluate students, educators do not take into account any other factors that affect a student’s education such as their family situation, financial income, a student’s interest in a subject, and the struggles that went into studying for a certain test.
Students become almost dehumanized into solely numbers and letters. Why can the letter “A” judge the worth of an individual?
The over emphasis of these methods to evaluate students perverts the actual purpose of education – to appreciate learning.
We are more than just numbers. Once we realize this , then we can avoid the societal pressures to define what is success for each and every individual.