Those words make every student cringe.
Since the very beginning of our education we have had these tests to determine our reading levels, spelling levels, vocabulary levels, math levels.. you name it. Any academic skill that can be measured, we get tested on.
At first these tests do not mean much. They identify with how much we are learning at the moment and track our progress as we grow. But then something switches and these exams become life or death.
We become so stressed about tests and quizzes that when it comes to actually taking them, we psych ourselves out and draw a blank. Are tests even a true test of our knowledge? I would have to say.. no. They are completely unfair and biased.
Some people are better test takers than others. Some students prefer multiple choice tests, while others prefer essay questions or short response. This division is caused by the tricks that are put into multiple choice tests.
One simple word in a question can change the whole entire meaning causing confusion and trick questions. Some people prefer the short answer approach to test taking because it is more straight forward and it really tests your knowledge on the subject. There are no trick questions it is simply applying your knowledge and writing it out.
Testing discriminates. Starting with young children. I clearly remember when I felt discriminated because of testing.
All throughout elementary we took these annual tests called the NWEA's or something stupid like that. To this day I still don't know what they mean. All I remember is that we got candy and our days were shortened because of testing. These tests were to track our progress throughout the years. A few weeks after the test we would get the results mailed home to us and they would state whether we were above or below the average.
These formal tests didn't mean anything until I got to the fifth grade. There were 3 classes of fifth graders at my school. And when it came time for math, I had to switch teachers. Because my teacher taught advanced math, and I didn't qualify. So during that time the whole grade would switch teachers and classrooms according to where we fit for math class. I was pretty good at math, but not good enough. That saying, I was one of the best in "normal math", but I still felt more stupid than the rest of my classmates. And this was only the beginning.
For the rest of our formal education, we were split and divided as a grade. In every subject possible. Advanced english, AP science, beginning history, the "Smart" kid classes.
It is ridiculous to think that I didn't even know half of my graduating class because I never had a chance to have classes with them. They were in "smart" kid classes and I was in regular. To an already not so confident shy girl, that doesn't feel the best.
When I was a sophomore, I took regular algebra 2. It was too difficult and too fast for me so I switched to the "dumb" algebra class. I excelled in it and ended the course with almost 100%. That made me feel great, until I remembered it was the "dumb" kid class.
These labels are put on us because of how we performed in tests at such a young age. They discriminate.
Just recently, my grandfather passed away. Being one of the only grandkids away at school it was hard to be away and not say goodbye. Fortunately I was able to go to the funeral because it was during my spring break. The not so fortunate part though, was when he had passed. It was right in the middle of my midterms. My grandpa passed on a Wednesday, and the following day, Thursday, I had 3 midterms to take. I could not concentrate to study, I couldn't concentrate during my exams. I ended up failing 2 out of the 3 exams.
To me this is unfair. I had a family emergency that clearly affected my ability to perform. But does anyone care? No. You pay thousands of dollars to take course that you have to complete and suffer the consequences no matter what is happening in your personal life. I know that if I could have taken those exams a different day I could have succeeded and not failed. But I had no choice, I had to take those exams the day after my grandfathers passing.
How is that just? Because I clearly do not see how that is fair to me. Now I am mourning my grandfathers loss and struggling to get my grades back up to semi decent. It is all too much for me.
To me, the worst thing about tests is the fact that they determine our future. It all starts in high school when your GPA begins to matter. Your cumulative GPA throughout high school decides whether or not you are accepted into higher education schools. Say during freshman and sophomore year you did not try or care at all about school, so you got an average of a C. Then when you became a junior you realized that grades matter. You try your hardest to get you grades up these next two years so you can go to the university of your dreams. But since you bombed when you were and underclassman, you were unable to reach that GPA that is required for said university.
Or think of this next scenario, ACTs or SATs. You are a smart student. Average GPA of 3.5 but you are not the best test taker. You bomb the ACT (or SAT depending where you live) and do not meet that requirement for your dream university. Like I said you are a smart student, great GPA but you just aren't good in that formal test setting. The stress and anxiety overcomes your ability to concentrate and focus on the test. These tests are such a inaccurate form of our abilities and successfulness.
Next scenario. You do not get into the college of your dreams so you settle for your second choice that had a higher acceptance rate. You are a sophomore getting ready to apply to the Journalism program at your university. You have already taken all the required classes and generals, but you do not have the best grades in the required chemistry with a lab or in calculus. Because of these lower grades in these general classes, your GPA is not high enough to get into the Journalism program. You are frustrated because you were forced to take these classes that you know you are not the best in... THAT IS WHY YOU ARE NOT PLANNING TO MAJOR IN THEM!
I though that the idea of college was to take the classes that interest you and will help you acquire your degree. Not to take classes that are clearly not your forte causing your eligibility to get into programs to plummet.
This also applies to other programs such as study abroad. Many study abroad programs require a certain GPA for you to get accepted. I think that this is very discriminating. Just because I am not the smartest student does not mean that I am not qualified to travel the world and broaden my horizons. Maybe study abroad is the answer I have been searching for. Maybe if I were to be accepted, travel, open my eyes, and think about myself. Just maybe. Maybe I will figure out what I am destined to do and start to get my life on track. Maybe I will find my calling in a different learning environment. Try new things. Find me.
But hey. I don't have a high enough GPA so I am stuck here. In Minnesota. Cool.
To think that all of this has been struck because of a stupid exam that was taken in high school or even elementary school.
Testing discriminates in so many different platforms. It is unfair. It is unequal.