Self-esteem killer

Cassidy McKnight, Staff Writer

Standardized tests have been a part of our lives and defined us as students since the first grade. But, why? Why are children grouped into MAP or SC Ready, previously known as PASS, scores? Why are some rewarded while others are forced to sit in the classroom and listen to their names not be called for ice cream or bowling trips? Politicians are using this self esteem killer as a way to profit off of students and to determine which teachers, and in turn which schools, are failing. The government needs to realize that students can still be honor-roll material with even the lowest test scores. Standardized testing, like all good things, should be done in moderation.

From the time we entered the first grade, we were bombarded and overwhelmed with tests that rated us from below average to advanced. Every class not only had its own “End of Course” cumulative final, but every grade was made to at least take one, if not two, standardized tests given by the state. As a reward for above average or advanced scores, children were given ice cream parties or bowling trips, while the average and below students had to stay in class to continue their work. How does this teach our students anything more than that they don’t deserve a reward for doing their best? Even in high school, cumulative finals, the ACT, the ASVAB or the SAT seemed to be all students worry about, so that they can make into a decent college or career.

This type of pressure can cause a lot of damage to students who are already stressed from their home lives. In a study performed by the American Psychological Association in 2014, 83 percent of teens surveyed said that school was either a “somewhat or significant source of stress.” The same study also states that teens reported their stress levels that same year as higher than the healthy norm. With all the stress of receiving near perfect scores on these tests, students could be too scared to make mistakes anymore. Our ability to learn from the mistakes we’ve made is a very valuable and necessary life skill. If students are more afraid to mess up, it can cause serious damage to their overall health. Students will never want to take risks and try new things, and they will not feel confident in themselves and their academic skills.

As an education major myself, I think it should be important for all our current and future teachers to understand how much kids in this era are struggling now more than ever before. It should be important to politicians and others as well, because these kids will one day be the new doctors, lawyers or politicians. If they doubt themselves now, it will only grow worse in the future; and due to their fear of mistakes, they may think it’s easier to give up. If that’s so, then what would that say about our education system? Children must be taught that these tests do not define them or their skills. It is OK to be an honor student with average or below average test scores. It is OK to get that answer wrong, and your test score does not define your future. Standardized testing can be a good thing for students to learn from, if done in moderation.