Kendra Shine
Kendra Shine Courtesy photo

Around this time of year, there are those students who feel the need to constantly complain about standardized testing, this year known as the HSPE (Washington's High School Proficiency Exam).

There are also those ever-cooperative students who find no problem sitting in a classroom for two to three hours taking a sleep-inducing standardized test and not complaining about it for one second.

Count me one of those.

What is the big deal with standardized testing? They're not difficult.

To lower pressure even more, standardized tests like the HSPE only test for the minimum of students' knowledge, unlike the SATs which push anyone who want to get close to the highest score possible.

With any standardized test, as long as a person puts forth some effort, they will pass. Yet the passing scores at our school, as well as the district, are low.

According to the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, during the 2008 to 2009 school year, passing scores in the Longview School District for the reading and writing sections of the WASL were at about 75 percent and 72 percent while math and science scores were only at about 41 percent and 36 percent for sophomores, respectively.

Students may find them tough or boring, but standardized tests are generally a good measure of a student's performance. Other indicators — such as grade point averages — are not always an accurate measure.

Why is this so? Don't grades matter?

With the wide variety of teachers found in any school, there are a wide variety of teaching methods. Some are more successful than others in helping the students to grasp a concept.

In addition, some teachers have low standards for students, while other teachers push students to do their absolute best. That means high grades that may come easy for some classes, versus grades that reveal real work.

With standardized testing, all Washington State students take the same test, showing who is really capable of comprehending subjects, regardless of GPAs and classroom performance.

We have taken the reading, writing, and math WASL in both 4th and 7th grade and should be used to the procedure of having to take standardized tests by now. It's just something that needs to be done.

"I just hate tests in general," junior Conner Jolly said. "All they do is stress you out,"

The main motivation of students taking the HSPE is graduation.

Beginning this year, without passing scores in all four sections of the HSPE, students will be ineligible to graduate.

That's different from previous years of only having to pass the reading and writing, and passing either the math WASL or a WASL-like math portfolio in class.

As tedious as these tests may be, there's really no need to continue to complain about them. They're mandatory. They need to be passed no matter what.

Students might as well pass sophomore year so they don't have to endure it for another year, a view voiced by Skylar Clark.

"Standardized tests are necessary and there are rewards when you pass it," Clark said. "Juniors and seniors who have passed it get to enjoy late start days in the spring. Who wouldn't want that?"

With higher tests scores and a larger percent of passing students, it will make our students, teachers, and school district look better. Who wouldn't want that?

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