By Jack Eisele
This year has been abnormal. Our communities have been struck by a pandemic and have been forced to react to our situation accordingly. School as it was prior to March of 2020 is no longer on the table. We have accepted that school would not be so normal this year, so why are we still expected to be tested like it was an ordinary school year? Should students still be accountable for the same knowledge as normal years?
Both students and teachers have pressure to perform well on standardized tests. To be tested on our knowledge gained during the pandemic is inconvenient for everyone--students, teachers, and administrators alike. So why is it that we continue to be tested?
A reasonable explanation is that we are tested to set a target milestone. The point of standardized testing has always been to ensure that teachers and students stay on task. Lusher English teacher, Ms. Crockett, makes the point, “It's been a bit of a challenge preparing and taking or proctoring [standardized tests], but I think it's better than if the state had said in August that there wouldn't be any EOCs. I think that would have made some students and teachers feel that doing your best isn't expected this year. That would have been a bad message to send.”
Without any form of accountability for the comprehension of a course, students wouldn’t really get anything out of their time. On the other hand, it is also fair to say that it is unfair for students to have this accountability in such an unusual year. It is undoubtedly a very stressful time. In the U.S., we just recently passed 400,000 casualties from COVID, and many people are stuck in their homes with little to no human interactions outside of family.
With that being said, many students say they have a hard time concentrating in a Google Meet or Zoom call. It makes sense for astandardized learning environment to receive a standardized test, but our current learning environment is “unstandard.” I think that the assessments for a course should reflect the course that was given, not reflect the course that was given in the past. Holding students who are either completely virtual or a mixture of in person and virtual learning to the same standard as students who took the course in an ordinary year doesn’t make sense.
In my own experience, I’ve taken the EOC test twice this year, for both Biology and U.S. History. It was definitely not as difficult as I had anticipated it to be, but I also go to Lusher, a generally high-performing school. Not everyone has the privilege to go to a school like Lusher. Schools that were already underperforming before distance learning will be even worse off now, so I have to sympathize with them--especially when it comes to AP tests which require a good score to get AP credit. Students and teachers have a lot riding on those scores, and they will need to produce good results even in this anything-but-normal year.