Dear Next President,
I, as a current student of a public high school, want to speak about education. I feel that our current education system needs to be reformed. Currently, students go to school for about seven hours being taught from their teachers. Students are tested periodically on the information. It is all designed to lead towards a college education. Our education is to prepare us for the ACT and SAT to get into a good college or university so that we may have good, high paying jobs.
I believe that this system needs to change. Everyone does not need to go to college, but there is this stigma in the world that pushes everyone to go to college. It should not be that way, I feel that we, as a society, need to change the focus of education and make it clear that being a tradesman is an acceptable job. Everyone does not need to be an engineer or a lawyer or a doctor. I believe that we need a new way of evaluating learning. Testing does not show how smart someone actually is, it shows how well they can memorize information and write what a teacher wants to hear. Everyone is different and smart at different subjects. There is a picture with a great visual representation and a quote from Albert Einstein that I feel explains one of the downfalls with our education system. We try to test everyone the same way, yet all of us are different and think differently. The different animals represent all the different students and how we are all different and think differently. Climbing the tree represents our standardized tests, very few of the animals can accomplish that easily or even at all. For example, I personally am a slow test taker and that is my downfall on the ACT and SAT and other timed standardized tests. It takes me longer than some people to read and comprehend information.
In addition, we put a ton of stress on children to do well on these tests. An article called Test Stress and Academic Anxiety by Liza Frenette, states “Last year's testing season was marked by widespread reports by teachers and parents of students getting physically sick and emotionally distraught over the standardized tests. It prompted many parents to exercise the option of refusing to let their children take tests.” The article was published in 2015 and continues to talk about the anxiety children are getting from tests. The fact that children are getting so stressed by these tests that some are getting sick and parents are choosing for their students to not take tests, shows that there is currently a problem. I used to, and still somewhat do, get terrible stress and anxiety from tests. In my AP Chemistry class, on one of the first days, my teacher told us to describe school in one word. Almost all of the students used the word stress or stressful to describe school. Is that how we really want kids to view our school system?
Some of this stress can come from the notion many adults tell us kids. This notion is that our whole future depends on two scores, our GPA and our ACT or SAT score. These numbers should not define us but, at the moment, they do. Test scores and GPAs determine our future and how “smart” we are. Student’s shouldn’t have to worry about the pressure of tests and what it will do to their GPA. However, some people say that this stress is good for students, yet I still disagree and so do others. The article Tests + Stress = Problems for Students by Daniel Edelstein explains this well, “Skeptics question the notion that stress hurts students and their performance in the classroom. They claim that anxiety-provoking situations are a part of daily life that students, like all people, must learn to handle. Nonetheless, some educational researchers have documented “acting out” behaviors exhibited by stressed out students that even go beyond the “exam stress” symptoms described earlier.” This quote not only states why people believe that stress in schools is good but also counters that with a negative effect stress has on students.
I also believe that tests do not prove learning. I believe that they just prove a student’s ability memorize information. I know that my friends and I have all taken tests that we memorized information for that test and forgot it the very next day. Tests just show that we can memorize some information. How does a test prove that we have actually learned and understood the material instead of memorizing words and or patterns? I believe this needs to change.
I suggest that we test kids on how much they have learned. To do this students should have more opened ended questions where they explain their thinking and what they know. Or students could have conferences with the teacher to discuss how much they understand the topic. I believe this will help shorten the gap of students capability and see what they actually know and not just what they can memorize. Overall, I believe that we need to change the setup of our schools help kids learn material instead of memorizing for tests.
Edelstein, Daniel. "Tests + Stress = Problems For Students - Brain Connection." Brain Connection. N.p., 12 July 2000. Web. 28 Sept. 2016. <http://brainconnection.brainhq.com/2000/07/12/tests-stress-problems-for-students/>.
Frenette, Liza. "Test Stress and Academic Anxiety." NYSUT.org. NYSUT United, 06 Mar. 2015. Web. 28 Sept. 2016. <http://www.nysut.org/news/nysut-united/issues/2015/march-2015/test-stress-and-academic-anxiety>.