New Academic Rule at Wash: Why Do Test Scores Matter So Much?

Brooklyn Servin, Opinions Editor

Washington High School has opened its doors for the 2021-22 school year, with over 1,300 students enrolled. Having activities and sports back in full swing and teachers opening their doors come with new rules to help everyone get back on track in hopes of succeeding. 

One rule has come into question stating “75% of the final grade will be from summative assessments while 25% of the final grade will be from formative assessments.” This means whole chapter tests for full units will weigh more in your GPA average over quick in-class knowledge checks. Its origin comes from the ‘Teacher Task Force’; a group of teachers who were chosen from the administration to let teachers get a say in the decision-making process of rules. One teacher involved with this group is Jordan Young, a social studies teacher and football coach at Wash. “We are moving to standards-based grading next school year as a district in the high schools: I think this is good practice for the real world” said Young, when asked about how this came to be and how it could be beneficial. Students, on the other hand, have raised concerns with this new rule. “Not everyone is good with testing. Raising the pressure of getting a good score could possibly lead to more stress than there needs to be.” said Ayla Dawson (‘23). 

Big tests being prioritized shows many faults. While some teens are able to test quickly with no troubles, testing will not always show a student’s full potential. To some it brings enormous stress, forgetting everything they learned in the 10 minutes they have to complete their Practice AP Exam. The home environments students are in play a big part as well. A kid who has to work right after school until 10 pm and go straight home to help take care of their little siblings will not be in the same boat as someone who goes straight home and has the whole rest of the day to do what they want. This also applies to school environment as well. A class with students who are always ready to learn and are all able to follow instructions right away will have a better shot at acing a test than a class with half the students being disruptive and half of them wanting to learn. If these are already concerns before the new rule came into place, after it’s set in place this could become a larger problem due to having a big amount of students in school environments that lack teamwork and respect. Schools will prioritize testing, pushing students to get good grades to rank higher in the “Top 50 High Schools in Iowa” without thinking about the mental health of the students attending their schools. 

With the new school year starting up there are many rules and topics students will have to relearn: talking to old friends and even how to solve an equation using the slope-intercept form. Getting into the old pace will be difficult to start with, but this school year will be one to remember.