How many weeks out of the year are actually spent teaching us the designated subjects rather than just preparing us for some test? The SAT and PSAT are understandable, because those tests are viewed by multiple colleges as a way to compare students nationally. However, standardized tests like the STAAR have NO effect on our college applications, so why do we spend so much class time studying and preparing for them?
On one hand, STAAR testing would be great if we just took it midway through the year to see if all the students are getting a good grip on the given studies; but on the other hand, schools spend so much valuable learning time in the first semester preparing us for a test that not only isn’t a part of national academics, but also creates additional stress and anxiety for the student body. There is so much pressure placed onto students to study and do well on STAAR tests that it sends them into internal turmoil trying to balance their everyday schoolwork plus the additional practices and study materials for the STAAR. Test anxiety is not a new subject, often sending some students into panic or anxiety attacks before or during a serious test. Having no STAAR test, while it may not completely eradicate the issue of test anxiety, will definitely reduce the general stress levels with the lack of the building panic and pressure that it brings.
As of recently, the STAAR scores have counted as 15% of the students’ final grade, which not only adds to the amount of stress already piled on top of our already large amount of schoolwork, but could ultimately bring down our GPA if we don’t do well. In the moments during the STAAR test, it is extremely easy to panic and forget most of your lessons. If a student fails to gather their composure, their panic could ultimately affect their entire grade. Because of the 15% grade weight, the mounting pressure to do well on the STAAR only doubles, and some students have come to tie their self-worth to their performance on these tests. And while I agree that everyone should take pride in their work and your grades are important, when it comes to the point that students are having mental breakdowns over a test that isn’t a part of national curriculum, it’s time to admit that something’s not quite right.
This is not to say that schools shouldn’t have tests, because it is important that we get checked on our understanding of assignments. But at the same time, students shouldn’t have to be constantly stressing about upcoming tests that have the power to ruin their current grade standing. STAAR tests were created for the same purpose as all the other tests we take: to ensure our knowledge of the current subjects. The only difference is that STAAR tests give you your standing among other statewide students rather than just your fellow classmates. The state needs to create a plan that will adequately test students on their general knowledge without causing stress and test anxiety.
Written by Jade Berry