The Harbinger Online

All Or Nothing

One test, on one day, with one score will dictate our level of success from the past nine months. Never mind all the other tests we spent hours studying for. This one is the epitome of them all: Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate tests.

AP and IB tests are designed to measure a student’s cumulative mastery of the course, with the promise of college credit for achieving a certain score. Running upwards of three hours, they’re inundated with essays and multiple choice questions. The month of May becomes a frenzy to pass the test and reach the holy grail of summer. Some will crash and burn at the last minute; others will triumph knowing they’ve secured college credit.

But unfortunately, three hours of filling in bubbles and scribbling essays is used to represent nine months of work. These summative tests fail to acknowledge all the hours upon hours exhausted studying throughout the year, all the days of working in class and all the questions asked and answered. They’re unforgiving dictators that don’t care if you’re feeling a little bit under the weather that day.

The Harbinger believes that the bureaucrats of standardized testing shouldn’t get to determine your worth with one score from one day. We believe the only fair way to measure success for the year is to use the student’s grade in the class. Because you’re worth everything you learned this year, from derivatives to conjugations. You’re worth the hundreds of color-coded flashcards, the dozens of notebooks filled with memorized equations and the countless times you went in early to ask questions.

AP and IB classes shouldn’t assign college credit based solely on one test; they should account for the work done during the past nine months. The ideology behind AP and IB tests is that they’re a cumulative assessment of a student’s proficiency.

Sure, some teachers are harder than others, and this could arguably obscure what it truly means to achieve mastery in a course. But these AP and IB tests are for colleges, the same colleges that students are already sending their transcripts to with the hopes of admission.  The lines have already been blurred for what an A looks like in one Calculus class versus what a C looks like in the other.

The tyrannies of standardized tests have plagued our generation. We live in a society full of hoverboards but have yet to devise a fair system to measure comprehension. In a world that’s constantly changing, we’re still taking the same standardized tests our parents took.

May shouldn’t be a panic to pull out a five on the AP English test, it should be a time of celebration, as Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out” plays on repeat in our heads. Instead, students are left cramming to master the art of World War I.

But now that you’ve completed the journey of AP and IB tests, celebrate your academic accolades. Celebrate that you made it out alive of those AP and IB tests you’ve been hearing about since the first day of school, because that is enough of a reason to be proud.

Don’t let that one score arbitrarily label you. It’s not a number that you have to paste on your head, as if your worth can be measured on a scale of one to five. It’s one number, from one day, from one test, that can never do justice to the nine months of work you’ve put in.

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Courtney McClelland

Sophomore Courtney McClelland is an opinion page designer for the Harbinger. Read Full »

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