Standardized testing leads to student stress


The stakes are high at the school when it comes to standardized testing. According to the 2016 rankings by U.S. News, Washington-Lee is ranked 17th in the state and was awarded the gold medal for being one of the best high schools in the country. Teachers and administrators have high expectations for their students to uphold if not improve these statistics.

There is a lot of pressure for students to do well on high-stakes standardized testing in order for the school to succeed, and students are overwhelmed. “I really don’t like the standardized testing that we take for the state, ” sophomore Frida Moya said. “I have to spend so much of my time studying and I get really stressed out. If I mess up it’s basically over for me, because [the tests] are worth so much of my grade.”

Moya is one of the thousands of people who feel that standardized testing is stressful. A survey from 2015 reported that 76 percent of psychologists from New York’s more than 600 school districts claim that state tests caused more anxiety than local tests. 80 percent of students opted out of taking standardized tests in New York the same year.

After seeing New York’s resistance that year, Virginia, particularly Northern Virginia, made efforts to reduce the number of standardized tests. Even with all the attention drawn to this issue little action has been taken. In fact, the amount and intensity of standardized testing has increased over the years. Not only are students expected to take these difficult tests, but they are expected to do well on them too. With most students at our school being in advanced, IB, and AP classes, this can be a lot to juggle.

Junior Ritavash Chowdhury is a full IB student who came to the school through the lottery system. Chowdhury finds it difficult to balance the four to five hours of IB homework he gets and the two sports he plays with the large amounts of studying that come with standardized testing. He often finds himself staying up until two or three o’clock in the morning trying to get everything done. “[Standardized testing] causes immense stress to the student,” Ritavash said. “It just makes them overwork and over study, and fries [the student’s] brains.”

Standardized testing has been criticized by many educators and students over the years. Many argue results shown from standardized tests are not anything that couldn’t be shown from finals, homework and classwork.

Gavin Morgan, another junior at the school, takes IB and AP classes. He feels that the added pressure from standardized testing is unnecessary since students have finals. “Honestly, AP and IB tests are a pain, and only really matter if you’re trying to get the college credit, but it’s worth doing, the standardized tests are easy,” Morgan explains. “You need them to pass the class, but there’s not point in having them if you already have finals and everything that shows that you’re well versed in the class.”

Research has shown that standardized testing encourages and increases memorization rather than learning. “What [standardized testing] can measure and count are isolated skills, specific facts and functions, the least interesting and least significant aspects of learning,” Alfie Kohn said in his book The Case Against Standardized Testing.

Overall, students feel that standardized testing isn’t doing them much, if any good. They think that there are several other ways to measure how well they are doing in school and that the stress these tests provide could easily be avoided by eliminating them altogether. “Those tests do nothing but force us to memorize things that we may not use,” senior Tony Auguste said. “We should be learning more about things that we will use in everyday life.”