The refrain “I hate tests,” is nothing new in my household, but it’s usually met with an unsympathetic “that’s life – it’s a necessary evil” shrug.
After last week’s SAT exam debacle that invalidated scores for 199 juniors from some 50 schools who took the May 5 SAT exam at Packer Collegiate Institute in Brooklyn Heights -- including my 16-year-old -- I’m having a hard time controlling my own rage.
What really happened that caused the Educational Testing Service to throw out the results of all the exams? We’ve been given little information, while witnessing a parade of finger pointing and of adults protecting adults. There is no evidence -- at least that we’ve heard -- of a cheating scandal.
And yet, there has been very little regard for the overstressed juniors who have had their scores invalidated and their test re-scheduled twice, with scant notice and virtually no explanation.
Of course, I want to know what happened and why, but it’s not individuals I want to signal out for blame.
Really, it’s a systemic culture of testing and their use that must be reconsidered.
By junior year, standardized state and city tests have become a constant way of life for New York City public school students, starting with third grade exams that can determine their middle school placement. By fifth grade there may be middle school admission exams, followed by a battery of tryouts and tests http://insideschools.org/high/how-to-apply/exam-schools for top city high schools.
The ambitious will pile on intense Advanced Placement courses, while all the while taking Regents, practicing for SAT or ACT exams and preparing for SAT II subject tests as well.
Just thinking of all those number two pencils bubbling in little circles inspires brain melt and may require a small fortune in test preparation to get ready for them.