Dinah Soloway Staff Writer
“Congrats on finishing Keystones! You’re the best.” I found this note hanging on my locker. A few days after having a couple of long days of testing in September.
As a public school, SLA is mandated to put students through the Keystone exams — and students who missed them last year due to being out of school had to take them this fall.. As someone coming into a new public school, these keystones were new to me. At my old school I still had taken tests like these, but now as a high schooler in a different setting more nervous feelings about the test came up.
Students were informed in emails of advisory memos of the plan. Multiple times I saw emails reminding me that keystones were just a few days away.
Teachers made a plan that made it easier for everyone to understand that taking the keystones was important. Despite this push on their part, many students decided to opt out of taking the test. It made sense at the time that I wouldn’t opt out of the testing, but I also desperately wanted a break from school testing and studying.
This year I decided to take them because I wanted to know what the testing was like in high school. My other thought while taking the keystones was if I take a couple of standardized tests this year I should really know what to do and what would help next year when I take the ACT or SAT. In the end, it was already decided by my parents after their word I couldn’t really argue.
When testing, students were assigned rooms by stream and grade to make the process easier and run more smoothly. When the test was over, Small group testing for kids who got extended time was separated from their big group to complete their testing.
Each room had an assigned teacher to guide students through the specific directions on the pamphlets. During the test-taking, there were many specific restrictions that the teacher would have to read even though kids had heard them before.. The structure of having an important test made me feel pressured as a student. Putting rules on how we take tests and show our work and learning. Even though tests do not always show how well of a student someone is, we all know the importance of taking them for our preparation for college and school life.
After a day of taking a test, SLA students went back to normal class periods. As most students had come to school to take a test that took almost half a day, my brain was almost fried and wouldn’t want to work. I know that a lot of people wanted to go home after this and sure I can admit I was one of them wanting to go back home, get into bed, and sleep.
After a long morning, I would have just liked to be sent back home to rejuvenate my brain from the hard test. Just imagining my bed back at home just sitting there with nobody using it was a pain.
As it was supposed to be a regular school day many kids came into school at 11 when later class periods started back up again. When I walked down the SLA stairs I was greeted by a bunch of students talking each nagging at each other about how well they did. Classes were purposely cut shorter than usual so that our school day would end at 3:05 is a very normal ending time.
When I found the note on my locker the next day, my first thought was: Why not give these encouraging notes before the important test? I read the note a few days after the testing and only then did my nerves go away. Everything felt so nerve-racking. Including the waiting for other tests, we would have to prepare for.
That being said, receiving the note after testing did help the nerves calm down for many students. Almost making it easier to get back to regular classwork.
I know that this is not the end of having to take standardized tests in high school. The next time I hear about any standardized test coming up I will definitely look at it a little differently than what I thought about the keystones. When I decide to take a test or have one coming up in school. I’m the kind of person who forgets about studying a couple days before and just wings it on the day off. Since next year I am heading into junior year I will need to plan out my studying more and get some support from my parents and others. I plan to head face on with any important test that comes my way.