Standardized Tests: Students’ Worst Nightmare

“You have an hour and a half to complete the exam. You may begin.” 

Sydney Zaikov looks around the room at the identical rows of desks, each with a computer atop it. Mimicking her peers, she reluctantly turns her gaze to the screen in front of her and begins by reading what’s on it. She quickly skims a bland passage and answers question after question about what she reads. She reaches a free response section where she is instructed to analyze the passage. It would seem as though Sydney is not the only one who has reached this section, as sounds of typing begins to fill the room. Sighing, she regurgitates a standard written response, almost identical to one’s she’s written in the past. 

Fingers dead, she moves on to the next passage, part of a smaller section (with no written response, thank god) where she repeats the same process: answering a series of multiple choice questions with only slightly differentiated choices. 

“Time’s up. We’re going to take a five minute break. You may stand up but do not talk and no matter what, do not discuss the test.

Sydney and a few other students stand up from the seats they’ve been glued to for the last two hours. Others don’t even bother getting up and remain hunched over their desks. But, just like that, times up and it’s time to repeat the tiring motions all over again. 

Sydney rushes to finish the last section of her test, typing an equally redundant essay analyzing the author’s purpose, not even bothering to spell check her work before submitting it and scurrying out of the testing center. 

Breathing in the fresh air as she walks out the door, Sydney checks her phone to see a series of Google Classroom notifications. Her heart sinks as she remembers that testing does not indicate a pause to her typical junior year course load.

She goes home and immediately jumps into bed, making sure to get a good night’s sleep so she can do it all over again tomorrow. 

The test Sydney and her fellow Juniors were taking is a newly administered test called the New Jersey Graduation Proficiency Assessment (NJGPA). This new standardized test is a graduation requirement for the classes of 2023-2025. 

The class of 2023 spent the last two semesters of their freshman year completing asynchronous learning, their sophomore year was either done completely virtually or going in once or twice a week. They only just started going into in-person class on a semi-daily schedule recently. For this reason, it makes absolutely no sense to bombard students with a new graduation requirement.

If there is one thing every student in the United States has in common, it’s standardized testing. Starting in elementary school, they are introduced to what is described as a way to measure how they compare to other students. They wake up early, listen to a proctor repeat the speech they know by heart and answer identical questions on reading and mathematics. 

The origin of standardized testing can be traced back to the eighteenth century, when public education was a new concept. In order to aid the administrative and policy related decisions that went into forming the American education system, tests were administered to showcase  students’ progress in different academic areas. 

Nowadays, the purpose of undergoing standardized testing is unknown to students: after taking these incredibly stressful exams, they completely forget about them, some not even bothering to check their scores. However, the hours that go into taking these tests take away from time students could spend on the work that actually matters. 

Since these tests measure one’s test taking ability rather than their knowledge, they’re not an accurate indicator of students’ proficiency. At the same time, some students suffer from test anxiety which can also hinder their performance. As these tests are no longer useful at what they were intended to accomplish, they must be removed from high schools across the country. 

Especially in Cresskill, time spent completing in-person education is a luxury. With that being said, it is impractical for CHS Juniors to waste their time with unnecessary testing when they have limited time with their teachers and peers.