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Nonnewaug High School's Chief News Source

NHS Chief Advocate

Nonnewaug High School's Chief News Source

NHS Chief Advocate

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Leveille: Why So Many Standardized Tests?

Grayson Leveille
Nonnewaug freshman Henry Strzelecki says that standardized tests like the NWEA aren’t set up in a way to prove his skills.

WOODBURY — Standardized tests: also known to many students as two hours of mind-numbing boredom.

But does this boredom have a purpose, or is it just a waste of your time?

First off, let’s think about why standardized tests even exist. The main purposes are to measure students’ growth and proficiency in a subject, but how well do they even do this?

Nonnewaug principal Mykal Kuslis said tests like the NWEA and SAT provide a barometer by which students and schools can compare themselves with others.

“I think standardized tests are a good way to measure yourself against everybody else,” said Kuslis, who noted the ability to compare Region 14 students with those from other regions or states.

This can be true, but some students think the experience can be improved. Nonnewaug freshman Henry Strzelecki thinks that standardized tests do not allow him to show his best work.

“I know that when I’ll take tests like that, I’ll take my time in the beginning, and then I’ll be like, oh, I only have a half hour left, I can’t finish, and then I get sick of it and I don’t want to continue it on another day,” Strzelecki said.

Strzelecki also thinks that students take too many tests throughout the year.

“You have to do like, what, three [NWEA tests each year in reading, math, and science] — one mid-year, one beginning, [and] one end,” Strzelecki said. “They are just overusing it at that point. I feel like it’s not effective because especially if you are getting close to the end of the year, everyone gets spring fever. They just want to get out of school and they are not going to focus on a test that takes two hours to complete.”

NHS freshman Max Nichols shares a similar opinion.

The NWEA testing welcome screen stirs plenty of negative emotions among students.

“That’s kind of annoying,” Nichols said. “I feel like it’s kind of a waste of time if you could be doing other stuff instead of these tests, but if you could get out of school early, I would like to do the testing. If they change it for the NWEA and you get out of school after your test [an early dismissal], I feel like students would be more like, let me get this done and do a good job so I can get home.”

I agree with this idea and I feel like it could help both students’ performance and enjoyment of tests like the NWEA. A way we could do this would be by having an NWEA week like midterms, but this idea leaves a lot of questions and complications, so it may not be so easy to introduce.

Though the current testing system may not be the best we can do, it isn’t all bad. Kuslis thinks that standardized testing is just one piece of what schools need to measure a kid’s success.

“I think they are part of a strategy in measuring growth in a subject,” says Kuslis. “I don’t think by any means any individual standardized test is the only way to measure it, and I think most companies that have them would probably say a similar thing. I do think that they are part of a bigger picture. When you talk about students’ achievement or growth, I think a standardized piece is good because you are comparing yourself to everybody else and you are comparing yourself to a standard that has really no subjectivity — it is very objective.”

But this also leaves the question, what else can we do? How can it be improved?

In addition to making test days half-days, another way that they can be improved is to shorten the tests themselves. Students would support this, but this falls on the testing companies and can be out of the hands of the district.

It may help if we just take fewer tests. We can rely on the classwork and the curriculum to help us learn and compare how we are doing to other schools, but this is also subjective and depends on the laws that the state sets.

It’s unlikely that any of these changes would happen soon, so for now, we’ll just have to keep testing.

This is the opinion of Chief Advocate reporter Grayson Leveille, a freshman at Nonnewaug.

About the Contributor
Grayson Leveille
Grayson Leveille, Reporter
Gray Leveille is a freshman at Nonnewaug High School. He writes for the NHS Chief Advocate as a sports reporter. He likes to write about sports and the school.
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