My name is Julia, and I am a junior at Park City High School. Today I would like to give you a look at what my testing schedule looks like in the spring of this school year. The third week of April, I will have Galileo tests in my English, math, and science classes. The following week, I will begin my SAGE English tests. During the next two weeks, I will have three AP tests. The week after that, I will have SAGE tests for science. And the following week, the second to last week of school, I will be taking the math SAGE test. During this period I will also be taking finals given by teachers, and potentially the ACT or SAT as well. Does this sound overwhelming yet? To me, and to many other students, I can say it most certainly does.
Each of these tests serve different purposes. The ACT is a necessity if I plan on attending college, which I do. The AP tests have the potential to give me college credit for the classes I have taken. My class finals will test my proficiency in the subjects I have learned, and will contribute to my class grades as well. SAGE is a statewide test to measure our school district’s proficiency compared to that of other districts. Galileo serves to evaluate our progress throughout the year, as well as to examine our teachers’ success.
When you add up all of these tests, you’ll come to the same startling conclusion as I recently have: most students at Park City High School will have four, if not five, different kinds of tests on their hands this spring and face almost six straight weeks of testing. Students could spend anywhere between twenty and thirty hours testing during this time. I speak for many of my peers when I say that this appears to be quite excessive. A part of this dilemma can be blamed on the extreme testing culture that exists in the United States, but there are changes that we as a district could make to render the spring months more manageable for students. Unfortunately, the majority of these tests are inevitable, at least in America’s current education system. However, at the very least we could reexamine the necessity of the Galileo tests in order to lessen the load.
When it comes to the spring testing season, the Galileo tests tend to be a nuisance both to students and teachers. To us, the students, who have many other exams during this time, Galileo is an annoyance, an extra load of work that does not seem to affect us in the slightest. To teachers, Galileo is a program that uses class time for tests instead of lessons. To both, it seems like a waste of time. When classes are preparing for AP tests or class finals, the last thing we need is to take tests that don’t seem to directly benefit us in any way. Instead, we could be using that valuable class time to review or even cover new material. When comparing the Galileo tests to the other exams I have, I don’t understand how I can improve my future by taking them. And at this point in my life, shouldn’t my future be my top priority? Also, test fatigue is a force not to be underestimated. Exams are mentally draining and take a heavy toll on students. The more tests that we have piling up, the more difficult it is to do well on all of them as we go from test to test, becoming increasingly tired and worn down as the weeks go by.
That’s not to say I am denouncing test taking entirely. I fully understand the value in measuring proficiency and collecting data that is consistent across all teachers and departments. However, there is a fundamental flaw in this system of testing, which appears to simply be a superfluous addition to the myriad of tests students already face. When students do not see the value in an exam, they have no motivation to perform to their best of their ability. Teachers are not allowed to include Galileo scores in students’ grades, and we students get no other benefit for our troubles. As a result, the majority of data collected from these tests is inaccurate. How students tend to perform on the Galileo tests, exams that we are not invested in, do not accurately reflect our abilities. At this point, the Galileo tests do not properly serve their purpose.
I understand the intentions of these tests, and I appreciate the efforts made by our school system to give students the best education possible. However, when it comes to testing, I strongly believe in the old adage “less is more.” Instead of weighing down our students with redundant tests, I suggest using the time as an opportunity to review and further our learning. The weeks of time gained would prove invaluable and translate to higher success rates on our other exams. I know that our school board makes every decision with the students’ best interests in mind, and I hope that the same will be true when it comes to testing this spring.