Opinion by Robin Hendricks
Last year’s state legislator’s decision to remove the High School Assessment Program left a gaping hole in the curriculum.
Months after making the decision to cut the HSAP, the legislation decided it would be replaced by WorkKeys, which is more career-oriented, and the ACT, which would test the students on the required reading and math. Both are mandatory.
ACT testing in schools seems like it would be a good thing. It is provided for by the schools so students do not have to pay to take the test that many of them would take anyway. It would take place on a school day, not on a Saturday like usual, so students won’t have to take time out of their weekends and would get to miss a couple of classes as a bonus.
This is all well and good for the students who would take the ACT anyway and don’t have hard classes to go to, but for some, the situation isn’t all good.
First of all, testing for both the ACT and WorkKeys will take place in April, in the middle of AP cramming, consecutively taking juniors out of class for hours at a time.
Secondly, there is currently no schedule to accommodate the ACT. For most standardized tests, students go to their testing rooms instead of their classes for the first two blocks of the day, occasionally missing a little of third block if it runs long. The ACT typically takes three hours without writing and three hours fifty five minutes, not counting breaks or the time it takes to read the instructions and fill out all the necessary paperwork, which usually takes up four to five hours instead. This would leave students returning to class in the middle of their third block, missing crucial class time, not to mention half of them missing their lunch.
Also, there are two college entrance exams for a reason. Some people’s minds work so they would do better on the ACT, others, the SAT. The ACT is known for testing knowledge, while the SAT is known for testing logic. It is unfair to force the same test on everyone, especially since the scores are going to follow the students. The scores are not used to measure the school, but the students instead. In fact, it is not measuring the school in any way more than their students voluntarily taking the ACT on a Saturday would, which begs the question, why have this mandatory test at all?
The ACT is required to be taken by all students in their third year of high school, including those who are mentally challenged–some of whom do not have average motor skills and cannot hold a pencil. It is not only unnecessary for them to sit through hours of taking the ACT, but it is also unfair.
Blanket policies, like that of the mandatory ACT, are public schools’ biggest downfall. The idea that what is good for most is good for all is sheer ridiculousness. For some reason, society finds it easy to believe that adults do not fit into checkboxes, but cannot extend that same courtesy to students.
If the state legislator took the time to create their own exam that tested reading and math in a way that mirrored the ACT and offered that exam as a free alternate, most of the problems caused by the testing would be eradicated. Those who felt they did not want to take a college entrance exam or that they were not ready to take it yet could take a test that would not affect their future education prospects.