Junior students stand up against the SBAC

Emma Lederer, Staff Writer

Last week, eleventh-grade students were scheduled to take the much-discussed Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium. However, as the week approached, more and more students decided to opt out of the test.

The number of participants in the “trial run” of this standardized test further decreased as the days of testing continued, and administrators scrambled to make accommodations while students demonstrated their silent protest.

A self-described “strong believer in education reform,” Julia Kempner ’16 expressed her opinion that the issue here could be solved simply. “[Standardized testing] is discussed more than other issues with education because it can be changed easily… just don’t give [them],” she said.

Furthermore, she explains that there is no need for Staples students to be compared to their peers more than they already are. “I understand very bad public schools might need to have some stats to know that they aren’t educating well,” Kempner said. “But… everyone knows Staples gets kids to very good colleges and that’s all that matters in the end.”

By grouping all of the juniors together and borrowing class time for the SBAC, Kemper explained that students are simply being used “as pawns in a board game of national competition.” She concludes by explaining that is the opposite of what the BOE’s goal should be: “to educate with passion and an emphasis on individuality.”

Jack Sila ’16, another student who chose to opt out, expresses his frustration with being the class that is a “guinea pig” for the SBAC. “I’ve never liked standardized tests,” he said. “After CAPT I thought I was done–obviously I was wrong.”

When Sila became aware of the fact that he could opt out, he did so immediately. “All I had to do was have one of my parents email Mr. Dodig a one line email saying that they didn’t want me taking the SBAC,” he said.

Sam Sheppard ’16, who participated in testing stated bluntly: “My parents didn’t allow me to opt out, which is the only reason why I took it.”

Of course, because opting out of this test was so simple and without individual consequence, the result was that the majority of the junior class chose not to participate in the Smarter Balanced test.

Regardless of the stress this test has caused to us all–it’s over. Students and administrators can continue on with their normal routines and hopefully next year will prove more successful.