STAR affects community and student future

May 19, 2008 — by Saniha Shankar

It was that time of year again; Extra sleep, almost no homework, and no regular classes. No, not summertime, but STAR Testing. STAR, also known as Standardized Testing and Reporting, is a statewide test given to all students between the second grade and their junior year in high school. Students in elementary and middle school test on English, Language Arts and Mathematics, while high school students cover English and math along with a section related to their current science course, sophomores and juniors take a history star test as well.

To most students, STAR meant taking an easy test and going home early to enjoy a few days without any homework. What most students do not know, however, is that STAR testing can affect their future, perhaps to nearly the same degree as other standardized tests administered during their high school career.

Even, with all of this said, the problem still remains that most students simply don’t realize all of this. Although marking all B’s on your scantron may guarantee an extra 40 minutes of sleep in the testing room, but it surely doesn’t help the school or the teachers. The teachers and staff members spend all year grading papers and mapping out lesson plans to make sure the students learn everything they need to know, and when the students purposefully fail this test it shows disrespect toward all those who worked hard all year.

Academic Performance Index, or API scores, are derived from STAR and are used to calculate a school’s academic success. Colleges also take into account the API scores from the high school they applied from. If students choose not to take the STAR test, they automatically receive a score below 200 points. This score is inputted into the average score for the school and counts towards the final API result for Saratoga High. Students who decide to blow off the test are affecting every other student that goes to this school.

Another unknown repercussion of disregard for STAR testing comes from the fact that teachers and counselors receive students’ scores before writing letters of recommendation. Filling in the letter B for all 800 questions of the math section may put students ahead on testing day, but it will set them behind when they apply to colleges.

If a getting a good recommendation letter isn’t enough motivation, there are not many ways with which to force students to do their best. Awareness, is one method. If students were more aware of how much the STAR test is affecting them, they might start to care more. Parents, on the other hand, should also be discouraged from letting their students skip the STAR test and should instead be encouraged to motivate their children to try their best.

Because the STAR sets itself as one of the most important tests that high school students will take, students will also be more apt to try harder if the circumstances under which they take the test are more favorable. For example, letting the students sleep in and start later would help the students concentrate much harder and the students would be much happier about taking the test.

Other than these changes there are not many things teachers or administrators can do. It is up to the individual students to realize how important these tests are.

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