As a student, I have spent approximately 250 hours on standardized tests. Every year since first grade, we would sit at our desks and take a test to tell us what we may already know about ourselves. I have spent hours upon hours, filling in countless bubble sheets, and the data is used for…what? So the school can see how well I read? If I can find the volume of a cylinder? All data and information which I have never seen. What do these tests really tell us?
Since 3rd grade, I have taken approximately 35 standardized tests. All of which present data that is similar to the year before. So why must we take another test? Won’t the PLAN test just give us information that schools have seen over and over again? It seems like I’m wasting my time for a test which I’ll never see again. When the test is finished they are collected and shipped away to be graded. Where is this “data” that supposedly knows everything about me? Because I have never seen it.
I don’t need a test to tell me if I’ll go to college, or that I’m stronger in English than I am Math.
Recently, sophomore students took the PLAN test; a preparation test for the ACT.
The PLAN test includes four multiple-choice tests on Math (Pre-Algebra/ Algebra and Geometry), English (Usage/Mechanics and Rhetorical skills), Reading, and Science. Eighth and ninth graders will also take a test similar to the PLAN called the EXPLORE test. Both tests are state-mandated tests.
Doing these tests over and over benefits no one. What frustrates me the most, is that normally teachers never see the inside of the test. We could be learning advanced algebra, but the test could have formulas we’ve never seen; and the teachers would never know.
Other students like Kendall York, a Leesville sophomore, agreed with my point of view. Kendall described the test as “too easy” and “not a good representation of students.”
Students like Timmy Wipperman, a sophomore, had a different point of view. He saw the test as useful and helpful to students.
Even with these conflicting opinions, both students agreed that time could be better spent doing other things. They thought that it would be better to spend that testing time doing sample problems and have information packets to prepare, instead of taking a three hour test.
In an effort to learn more about this test and why we have to take it, I asked for an interview with Dr.Muttillo, Leesville’s principal.
“I’m not sure that [the PLAN test] is special,” noted Dr. Mutillo when I asked if the PLAN test was special, compared to other standardized tests. “Our students are tested a lot when it comes to the ACT, SAT, PSAT, the PLAN, or the EOC… I have found that generally the data points line up. I don’t know if [the PLAN] tells any new information.”
Dr. Mutillo went on to state that, “[Thursday] we pulled sophomores from 7:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. There is a lot of instruction in classrooms where students could be learning new things.” He later said, “We need a balance [of assessments and instruction], but at what point are we removing students from instruction too often?”
Over the next month I hope to continue to update my article on the information I have discovered. I will attempt to contact the “higher-ups” and share the information I have learned.