Standardized Testing: Are we prepared?


Jim Weimer, staff writer

The ACT and other tests are immensely important to juniors, yet the school does not focus on helping students with them.

Whether it be the ACT or SAT, standardized tests are used to gather data about all students. Teachers look to see how students are improving, department chairs look to see if their curriculum is working, and colleges look to decide whether or not to admit students.

“I feel like the school places a lot of emphasis on the ACT,” Christian Schumacher, junior, said. “If you don’t get the wake-up call to do [well], then you will end up with a bad score and in a bad college.”

These tests are undoubtedly important, because millennials with a college degree make $17,500 more than high school graduates on average, according to US News. However, the school is not adequately preparing students to take these important tests, according to Schumacher, who added that he felt unprepared for the writing and mathematics portions of the test.

“Our curriculum is designed towards the goals and skills you will be able to use during standardized tests, but we don’t teach to a test,” Eric Hamilton, assistant principal for curriculum and instruction, said. “We will teach skills like comparing and contrasting, or analyzing written work to form an answer.”

The school offers an after-school ACT prep class to help juniors, but this class costs money, and the school used to do a lot more to help prepare students for this important test.

“Historically at ACT time, we have done things building-wide to help [the students] with the test,” Jeff Bivin, math department chair, said. “We used to take a week to take juniors out of a class each day and look at test taking strategies. For example, say Tuesday was math, Wednesday was English, Thursday was science, and so on.”

While the after school class can help students learn about the test, taking juniors out of class one period a day for an entire week would be a lot more helpful, according to Schumacher.

“I feel like the program the school used to use was far better than their current after school class,” Schumacher said. “Instead of having students pay to sign up for an after school program that happens about once every two weeks, having it during school would make sure everyone is there and everyone learns it.”

Though these tests are important, students still have problems with them. According to Schumacher, colleges should look more at what the students achieve, and not judge people on a simple number.

“The ACT cannot accurately portray a student’s full capability and potential,” Schumacher said. “Say there is a student who is terrible at math and is a slow reader, but he is an amazing salesman who can sell anything, or is a licensed scuba diver, or is an amazing athlete. The test only shows colleges that the student is bad at math and reading, because it is only a small snapshot into someone’s life.”

However, standardized tests are the best way of testing many different students from various places and being able to compare them evenly, according to Columbia University. Without these tests, it would be nearly impossible for colleges to compare so many students on an even playing field.

While students may not like these tests, they are necessary to help colleges compare students. Because these tests are necessary, the school needs to do more to help students prepare.

“Is the ACT something that’s important? Well, the colleges have dictated that it is,” Hamilton said. “You and your family have decided that it is if you want to go to college, therefore, it needs to be important to us.”

The ACT and SAT are important tests for students, yet the school does not help prepare students for it unless they pay for the after school class. The school needs to do something to help prepare students for standardized tests, because according to the District 95 mission statement, their goal is to prepare students to achieve their goals and inspire students to be passionate and continuous learners.