…On CMS’ testing policy

Dear Editor,

As a high school junior, I have been in the public school system for years now and am well-accustomed to taking standardized tests. The increased focus on end-of-year test performance has only escalated since I was an elementary school student.

While I’ve never been particularly fond of taking tests to evaluate my learning, it has always just been a process: take out the number two pencils, bubble in the answers, and wait for the results. Not until this year was I actually concerned with this system of testing.

After taking three advanced placement exams, one end-of-course test, four teacher-made final exams and five CMS summative exams I have to join the rest of the community in asking: why are we being tested so much?

The CMS summative exams, administered these past two weeks, have raised a huge controversy – teachers and parents alike roll their eyes whenever the tests are mentioned. Though CMS provides a webpage to answer frequently asked questions pertaining to the tests, their answers are general and inadequate.

For instance, they contend the great quantity of testing is necessary to “measure the student’s knowledge in the content area.”  It is not enough to simply tell us the purpose of so many tests by giving us a basic definition of testing.

I’m left wondering – don’t final exams, EOC’s and AP exams already assess our “knowledge in the content area”?

It’s hard to agree with CMS’s claim that summative assessments will “help calculate student growth” when the tests are flawed. As ironic as it may sound, the AP English exam was a grammar nightmare!  Upon completing the exam early, I flipped back through the test and counted 20 errors, ranging from improper line numbers to missing commas. Reading 19th century passages is challenging enough without these blunders.

The test was actually pulled straight from Collegeboard released materials, so I can’t figure out whether the test creators struggled with the copy/paste procedure or intentionally messed up so that the “Copyright CMS” wouldn’t cause a lawsuit with Collegeboard. Other exams also didn’t appear to be revised.

While I do find that testing is needed to a certain degree, I don’t think additional tests (particularly the summative exams) are the best means for determining student and teacher performance. Some schools have a clear advantage over others with regards to resources.

The AP Statistics exam was a replica of one we took in class, so how can CMS compare Providence High School’s results to a school that has never been exposed to the materials before?

Really, it shouldn’t matter if my school scores better than another because education should not be so much of a competition. It should not be so much about whether we can answer A, B, C, or D but whether we can develop effective communication and analysis skills through group collaboration.

Sarah Chaney
Providence High School junior

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