As international high school students, we are all now aware
of the exam cancellations across all major exam boards for this year’s students.
This has set a new precedent on how schools will be assessing their students’ capabilities and thus producing a final grade. For years, the debate regarding the importance of traditional standardized testing has been increasing in prevalence, as more schools have decreased the weighting of final examinations by including coursework and other projects throughout the school year. Assessments and intense testing have always been a fundamental aspect of our academic institutions; however, we are currently seeing many changes occurring to this principle due to the inability for these tests to take place.
For example, Harvard and Cornell, two prestigious and influential Ivy league universities, have waived the requirement for the SATs during admissions for 2021 and 2022 graduates. As a result, this has prompted many schools to reconsider the importance of formal standardized testing.Although we do not truly learn from tests, I do believe that tests drive students to actually learn and absorb the information that they are presented with throughout the school year. I think that testing provides motivation, but also comes with copious amounts of stress. In my opinion, the importance of tests should be shifted so that this pressure could be alleviated whilst not taking away from the motivation and assessing that tests provide for both the students and teachers. It is currently inevitable that the final aim of all primary and secondary education is for the students to gain higher education at the most prestigious university within their capability, which then leads them into the world of professional pathways. This is then further emphasized by the belittling from our society that people who are unable to or choose not to receive higher education have to endure. In the present day, I do not see a way in which the ultimate goal of employment could be altered, considering our capitalist and production-driven economy.
In addition to this, I believe the current education system’s hierarchy of subjects should be returned to equal proportions. This system wrongfully places more importance on STEM subjects while simultaneously dismissing the arts. Currently, we are witnessing a real-life indication of the value of the arts. During this pandemic, society has turned to artists through music, TV shows, books, and others to cope with all the stress. Ideally, all subjects should be taught with the same standard of importance. I believe that all subjects should have a coursework component within them with less weightings on formal standardized testing. Moreover, teachers’ professional opinion on their students should also be taken into account; they are the ones who have taught the students for long periods of time and are familiar with their capacities and potential.