Fear of failure; the effects of standardized testing impact both students and teachers

Anna Guinn and Heather McQuinn

Your heart’s racing. Weeks of studying, and yet as the test gets passed out, you can’t help but feel a sense of impending doom. Twenty minutes isn’t near enough time for 50 questions and you begin to panic. Will all of your studying, and ultimately your sacrifices, be for nothing?Abby Ripley, a senior at NHS, knows that feeling of panic all too well. She is taking three AP classes and two ACP classes this semester. For Ripley, the stress is familiar, but nevertheless seemingly endless.

“I feel like although I’ve understood the material throughout the semester, it’s still pretty stressful to sit down and try and recall everything, especially in classes that rely heavily on memorization,” Ripley said.

Senior Cole Melton is taking four AP classes and a dual credit class this semester, and is worried about not only the AP exam but also finals relating to his additional classes. He filled his schedule with advanced classes but had to make adjustments due to the demands on his time, sacrificing AP government and economy to serve his position as drum major, leader of the band. But can it still be too much?

“Finals make me feel frustrated and stressed. It’s really difficult for me to manage studying for all of them, especially with how busy the end of each semester gets with the holidays and AP testing, and I feel like that lessens my ability to prepare for them,” Melton said. staMelton believes pushing finals into a singular week might be too much, but even still worries finals might not be enough to test his abilities.

“I usually go into finals worrying that my grade might take a hit because the content on the final can’t fully test my learning in the class, which is frustrating,” Melton said.

Mark Pardue, a social worker at NHS, has seen the effects testing has on students, especially with his past as an ISTEP remediation instructor and English teacher. With this in mind, Pardue still thinks testing is necessary due to the fact they are required in a multitude of places to graduate and/or succeed.

“Honestly, even if finals could be changed to reduce pressure, they probably shouldn’t,” Pardue said.

Although final testing is the subject of discussion, what comes after would be even more detrimental for student health. Melton claims his source of exhaustion stems from the rapid influx of stress, transforming into relief almost too quickly for his liking.

“I’m affected by the shock of transitioning from a super busy finals week to the first week of break,” Melton said.

Pardue claims test taking is a skill and your final test score shouldn’t be a basis for a student’s value.

“As stressful as testing can be, it’s important to remember that your worth and dignity are defined by more than your score. Don’t confuse a bad score with low worth,” Pardue said.