By Hiba Samdani, Co-Editor in Chief Responding to students’ cries for help in the tsunami of academic assessments, the administration has provided a flimsy pool noodle: testing days. To prevent the inevitable stress of taking multiple tests in a single day, the school instituted a new policy in which departments can test exclusively on two...
By Hiba Samdani, Co-Editor in Chief
Responding to students’ cries for help in the tsunami of academic assessments, the administration has provided a flimsy pool noodle: testing days. To prevent the inevitable stress of taking multiple tests in a single day, the school instituted a new policy in which departments can test exclusively on two assigned days per cycle. In an attempt to reduce stress, the school has unintentionally complicated the academic agenda for both students and teachers.
As the system was primarily designed for students, teachers are left out of the equation. Teachers are sometimes forced to test a week after the unit ends, leaving a gap where teachers must adjust their schedules. Especially in AP classes — whose tests are scheduled on a set date — such an extended period of time cannot be afforded to continuously review material. Therefore, teachers move onto new information, forcing students to balance both old and new information – a task that quickly becomes stressful for multiple classes.
This studying method may not even be effective: a 2015 study done by Vanderbilt University found that students who tested a week later after studying material retained less information than those who were tested immediately afterwards. Such a finding renders large gaps between review days and test days ineffective for overall performance. A fixed date gives a teacher less flexibility to adjust their teaching pace to student feedback. Any process that alienates student progress from classroom teaching style is detrimental to classroom cohesion.
Furthermore, the academic balancing act actually impedes students from planning their studying properly. Many students are now finding weeks in which they have a test every day. Students are finding themselves in a situation akin to having to take multiple AP tests in the first week of May. Back-to-back testing leads to burnout, induce poor sleep habits and diminishes return on academic performance.
This exhaustion is what the administration was trying to prevent when they first implemented testing days. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), students often undergo testing fatigue after an extended period of time testing. However, mental fatigue is falsely credited to lower test scores and poor performance. A study conducted by the APA found that students who took longer tests scored significantly higher on a standard SAT test, despite feeling mentally drained. While students may admittedly feel tired after a long day of testing, their performance isn’t compromised.
While the administration is attempting to help students, testing days don’t address the root problem behind this new system – the stress of too many tests, projects and assessments. Even with days designated to certain subjects, having a lot of tests can be overwhelming. When it comes to student mental-health, testing days are a misguided, temporary treatment, not a permanent cure.
Hiba Samdani can be reached at [email protected]
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