The Epidemic of Testing

It’s almost that time of the year again. As the academic calendar approaches the end of classes, Regents week becomes an increasingly prevalent topic of discussion.

Whether it be Chemistry, Spanish, or Global History, it’s mandatory for all New York City public school students to take these exams to receive a high school diploma and continue their academic careers.

Naturally, teachers will begin to rigorously prepare their students for these incoming standardized tests.

However, one must wonder if too much emphasis is placed on solely on test preparation, and not enough on topics that stray slightly outside of the curriculum and the Regents standards.

According to Tech’s testing statistics, 99.40% of Tech students passed the ELA regents in 2011, and 70.40% of those who took the exam also achieved mastery. Across most subject areas, Tech students excel in achieving impressive Regents scores.

So, why are teachers so hesitant to delve deeper into their subjects for the benefit of the students? Why do some teachers insist on teaching only information that correlates with the Regents?

Amena Abbassi ’16 claims that “It is an insult to us! Life is not about passing the Regents.”

Unfortunately, it’s not only the Regents that are adding fuel to the fire. AP exams, as well as recent discussion over the possibility of creating a national test, have also raised concerns over this growth in standardized testing.

Becky Chen ’15 adds, “The system is too test based. I don’t think students should be judged on how they do on one test. Plus, a lot of teachers teach only what you have to know and don’t cover outside topics. For example, military history isn’t covered in AP U.S. History, because it’s not on the AP exam.”

It is a difficult situation, but most students agree that more testing is not the way to improve our education system or to get students to learn more.

When asked how to solve the epidemic of testing, Amena Abbassi ’16 also suggested to “teach students to learn rather than to only get good grades.”

Anna Feldblyum ’15 agreed and said, “I feel upset that the system isn’t more individualized.”

Ultimately, if the best interest of the students is taken into consideration, policymakers must reevaluate the options for improving students’ grades and finally understand that more testing is not a practical nor an effective solution.

Instead, we should consider alternatives such as designating more power to the teachers to decide how to teach their classes based on the level of difficulty they feel that their students can handle.

After all, Albert Einstein once said that the definition of insanity was, “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting the same results.”

Therefore, giving students the same tests over and over again will not improve test scores in the slightest, and it’s clear that this is an approach that we cannot continue to pursue.

Education is the key the solving many of the problems facing society today, and if we fail to teach our young well, we risk hindering the advancement of our city, as well as our nation as a whole.

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