Graphic by Audrey Kercher ’23
It’s just a normal day at school when I hear my phone start to buzz, alerting me of an email. I open it and my heart stops beating for a second.The ACT scores are out.
My phone floods with text messages of concerns, excitement and worry about the test. There is a rustle throughout the classroom as other students get their scores and the air fills with yells of numbers. Some numbers were lower than mine, but some much higher. Disappointed, I sign up for the next test.
Although this seems like a dramatic scene for the release of a standardized test, the competitiveness for both the ACT and SAT holds a powerful grip on Staples students. Although they may, according to some, just be outdated standardized tests, they are an unimaginable source of stress due to unruly direct comparison of one student to another. So, it is time for the power these tests hold on students to be eliminated.
The average of Staples SAT test scores is 1290, far higher than the national average of 1051. With an SAT average so high, Staples students should be satisfied with their scores. However, this just elevates the cut-throat environment of Staples High School.
Even if students are scoring in the top national percentage for a test, they can still be disappointed when they only compare themselves to those who do better.
Although some students might perform better in a competitive and high-achieving school because there is more direct incentive to do better, other students will just become anxious, burnt out or depressed.
So what can be done to get rid of the stress inducing environment?
For starters, students shouldn’t share their test scores. If people kept their scores to themselves, it would eliminate the student-versus-student comparisons.
Secondly, people need to recognize the shift that has occurred between standardized test scores and college requirements. The truth is, standardized tests are just not regarded as seriously any more. Most colleges are test optional due to COVID-19. The test optional option gives students the ability to forego submitting their standardized test scores, taking the pressure off of doing well.
Of course, even if these steps were taken, given the fact that Staples High School has a 99% graduation rate, the high-pressure environment isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. But still, if we are forced to keep learning in a high stress environment, we must do our part to help decrease stress as much as we can. Not sharing your scores is such an easy way to help and can minimize stress and competition around standardized testing.