It's Time for a Student's Voice be Heard About Standardized Testing

By: Sydney Holmes | Published: March 22, 2019 | Updated: Aug 23, 2019

I am currently a junior at Lake Highlands High School and I have taken countless STAAR tests, including simulation tests. I feel like I have been taking the same test since I was in third grade. The STAAR is a pointless and inefficient way to test students’ expertise and intelligence.

The core classes I am currently enrolled in are physics, Pre-AP Pre Cal, AP English 3 and AP United States History. Only one standardized test will be testing me on a course that I am currently learning from.

But wait – didn’t I take a US History STAAR in 8th grade?

I did. So why am I being tested again over this topic? Why aren’t I being tested over the new courses I’ve been taking? Why have I been writing about these silly immature prompts since elementary school that don’t allow me to express my new found skill of writing? The skill of being able to analyze and explore the prompt and find the deeper meanings.

I am not given the opportunity to show what I can do with the things that I have seen and endured in my short time in this crazy screwed up world. Instead, I am writing about whether friendships make someone happy or the importance of family.

I want to write about the pain I have seen, heard and felt. I don’t just want to focus on the happy aspects of life because that is not how the world works. The world is not fair. No one is going to be there to shield us from the hard times. Let us show you what we know and have learned.

Why not choose a more broad topic where you just let the student roam free and write whatever they feel so you can truly know their skill level? Forget the useless formats and techniques. All of these prompts and all of the curriculum that are supposed to help us improve are making us feel voiceless and belittled. Belittled by an education system that thinks they have set the precedent for others. But really in reality the people don’t agree.

People have been pushing legislatures to abolish the STAAR. The pressure of these tests is an immense amount. In order to graduate high school you have to pass. Maybe you don’t have good test-taking skills and you just get flustered, then frustrated, and you can’t do anything about it. Because you HAVE to PASS. And how is it fair to have ESL students taking the same test? English is not their first language. You are expecting them to learn English and then spend the other half of the school year gearing up to the take the STAAR.

Teachers are spending an enormous amount of time preparing students to take these tests. But I have been hearing the same lectures and seeing the same PowerPoints and videos over and over, year after year. How is that in anyway benefiting us?

This curriculum is forcing the fun out of learning. It’s taking the creativity and desire to learn out of it. That is only hurting us. Creativity is the basis for someone being able to express themselves. Letting students have fun and be free is vital to their upbringing and childhood. High school is the time where you are most vulnerable and where you are trying to figure yourself out while trying not to lose yourself in what society tells you who you should be. Adding this stress to a high schooler is only going to tear them down. With the stress of core classes and the hardships they are facing in their home life, they won’t be able to be themselves and succeed.

The STAAR is supposed to be a readiness test that we need to pass in order to move on to college. Classes in high school are supposed to help prepare students for college and the real world. So why are we wasting half a school year going through the standardized testing portion?

It’s funny, isn’t it? The test that we so badly need to pass, the test that could ruin our future, is holding us back. It’s keeping us from learning the skills we need for when we are on our own. Instead of learning important information in our classes that could help benefit us in college – like in our history and math courses – we are being stuck in this endless cycle of testing. These courses are supposed to help us in our future because they are giving us a preview of college. But we aren’t getting the full amount of time we should be getting in our classes.

I am not saying that I am completely against the way that students have to prove their knowledge and skill of high school in order to graduate. I am simply stating that the system that is in place now is corrupt. It is not fulfilling its initial purpose.

The standardized test has changed from TABS to TEAMS, then TAAS to TAKS, then finally STAAR. The state cannot seem to get it right. They need to come up with a better system.

I am not being given the chance to express myself. I am stressing over the fact that I have to pass these tests in order to get out of high school. I am tired of hearing the same lessons over the STAAR. I want to write about what I have experienced in the real world. I want to show my creativity and not worry about improving my test-taking skills. Or work on improving my scores when they have remained high and constant since 4th grade.

I want to focus on my current lessons and just stress about my Pre-Cal test this Friday so I can improve my grade and GPA. I want to have the desire to learn new things and not have to be bored to death in my English classes.

I don’t want to be forced to take a test that decides my future when it doesn’t let me express my full potential.

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