The Evils of Standardized Testing

The Evils of Standardized Testing

The SAT and ACT are designed to level the playing field for college applicants, but they rarely succeed in doing so.
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The SAT and ACT are standard tests for the admittance of students into colleges throughout the nation. American high schoolers all receive uniform questions, no matter their class, race, background, or location. Since these exams are standardized and similar each year, students may prepare in advance for these exams by taking classes. These standardized tests should not play a significant role in the college admissions process because they do not truly determine a student’s intelligence and are disadvantageous for underprivileged students.

The SAT does not accurately display the knowledge of high school students. Seventeen-year-old students are expected to know a wide range a words that may be neither necessary for their daily vocabulary nor taught in their schools’ vocabulary books. The SAT is supposed to test the knowledge of students, but it is difficult for a child to know something he was never taught. Though the tests have attempted to move more toward school curriculum, it is impossible for students to truly reflect their knowledge based on black and white multiple choice questions.

Students spend four years of their lives trying to earn decent grades. A student’s report card, in comparison to the SAT, shows not only a student’s knowledge based on what he or she has learned but also his or her work ethic and ability to challenge him/herself. The SAT does not show the extra hours that a student puts into doing his homework or seeing his teachers after school for extra help. The ACT does not reflect the algebra test that a student studies for a week in advance. The score on the SAT is a number, but this number can determine a child’s entire future.

A student’s score on the SAT can be greatly increased by taking a SAT preparation course. Fortunate students may pay hundreds of dollars to train for a test that can determine which college they attend, in turn affecting their careers and ultimately the rest of their lives. SAT preparation courses are quite costly, and many students can not afford to take them. These less fortunate students may go into the test not knowing what to expect or what type of questions they will see.

Additionally, the charge of the actual test itself creates a disadvantage for the less fortunate. Those who are able to retake the test often score higher the second or third time they take it. Some truly fortunate kids are able to take the test even more times than that! Sure, fee waivers allow some students to take the SAT or ACT without paying, but it’s hardly a task that can be free over and over. The SAT score will likely be far greater for a student in a well-to-do family.

The SAT and ACT should not play an essential role in the college admissions process because they do not accurately display a student’s knowledge and are only propitious for the privileged. Standardized tests do not properly examine what a student has learned. It’s easy for some to play this system and difficult for others to catch up, so these tests can’t be a true reflection of what a student does or does not know. The SAT and ACT are not the best way to determine if a student should be granted admission into college or not.

Cover Image Credit: UNICEF

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Working With People Who Are Dying Teaches You So Much About How To Live

Spending time with hospice patients taught me about the art of dying.

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Death is a difficult subject. It is addressed differently across cultures, lifestyles, and religions, and it can be difficult to find the right words to say when in the company of someone who is dying. I have spent a lot of time working with hospice patients, and I bore witness to the varying degrees of memory loss and cognitive decline that accompany aging and disease. The patients I worked with had diverse stories and interests, and although we might have had some trouble understanding each other, we found ways to communicate that transcended any typical conversation.

I especially learned a lot from patients severely affected by dementia.

They spoke in riddles, but their emotions were clearly communicated through their facial expressions and general demeanor, which told a story all on their own. We would connect through smiles and short phrases, yes or no questions, but more often than not, their minds were in another place. Some patients would repeat the details of the same event, over and over, with varying levels of detail each time. Others would revert to a child-like state, wondering about their parents, about school, and about family and friends they hadn't seen in a long time.

I often wondered why their minds chose to wander to a certain event or time period and leave them stranded there before the end of their life. Was an emotionally salient event reinforcing itself in their memories?

Was their subconscious trying to reconnect with people from their past? All I could do was agree and follow their lead because the last thing I wanted to do was break their pleasant memory.

I felt honored to be able to spend time with them, but I couldn't shake the feeling that I was intruding on their final moments, moments that might be better spent with family and loved ones. I didn't know them in their life, so I wondered how they benefited from my presence in their death. However, after learning that several of the patients I visited didn't have anyone to come to see them, I began to cherish every moment spent, whether it was in laughter or in tears. Several of the patients never remembered me. Each week, I was a new person, and each week they had a different variation of the same story that they needed to tell me. In a way, it might have made it easier to start fresh every week rather than to grow attached to a person they would soon leave.

Usually, the stories were light-hearted.

They were reliving a memory or experiencing life again as if it were the first time, but as the end draws nearer, a drastic shift in mood and demeanor is evident. A patient who was once friendly and jolly can quickly become quiet, reflective, and despondent. I've seen patients break down and cry, not because of their current situation, but because they were mourning old ones. These times taught me a lot about how to be just what that person needs towards the end of their life. I didn't need to understand why they were upset or what they wanted to say.

The somber tone and tired eyes let me know that what they had to say was important and worth hearing. What mattered most is that someone who cared was there to hear it.

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4 Things I Wish High School Me Knew

Every day has a purpose.

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People don't give high school enough credit for having the ability to shape your life. It can build you or it can break you and often times there is no in between. As I enter into my senior year of college I have reflected a lot on my college career and how it really has been the best years of my life up to this point, but I know that without a doubt my life would have been so different in I would have known these things as a high schooler.

1. Your life is valuable

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. - Ephesians 2:4-7

2. You aren't defined by your singleness. 

Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you by the gazelles and by the does of the field: Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires. - Song of Solomon 2:7

4. You aren't going to fit in

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. - Romans 12:2

4. Your clothes aren't going to fit forever, don't spend all of your money on them 

Then he said to them, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions." - Luke 12:15

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