What We Wish Our Teachers Knew About Testing Week

CRHS Junior Students

This article was written by Dorian Franklin, Tori Applestein, Abby Jeffries, Caleb Williams, Hala Malik, Lizzie Foreback, and Alexis Doherty, along with other junior CRHS student contributors. 

Testing after virtual school is an unnecessary stressor, and because we have to do it, we want our teachers to understand what we are experiencing during that time.

Students care about grades and about teachers. We want our teachers to understand how we feel and to know that we do care about learning and about trying hard in their classes. We love learning, and we feel devastated that this test measures our ability to take a test rather than our ability to learn. 

Teachers, please remember that we are each taking eight classes, and many of us also have extracurricular activities, sports, jobs, and other commitments. On game days and work days, we might not get home until late at night. Please keep in mind when planning lessons and homework, especially during the two weeks of testing in October and again for testing in the Spring.

Testing for two weeks in October impacts our mental health. Last year during online school, there was a mental health crisis because so many students shut down, and felt so alone. It doesn’t help that there has not been a lot of transparency about how the test scores will affect our graduation, or that we didn’t get a lot of information in advance about the testing format. 

Many studies have already suggested that the COVID pandemic, which is not over, has had consequences for mental health. 

Late hours and lack of sleep result in amplified emotions, and something that would be less stressful in normal circumstances feels way more intense. The more emotions there are, the harder it is to concentrate, and we stress out even more. The cycle never truly ends.

Teenagers have seen an increase in mental health issues during the pandemic. According to Frontiers in Education, “The American Psychological Association (APA) reports 81% of Gen Z teens (ages 13–17) have experienced more intense stress during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

And this impact is not limited to teenagers. In a February 2021 article, KFF reported that “During the pandemic, about 4 in 10 adults in the U.S. have reported symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder, a share that has been largely consistent, up from one in ten adults who reported these symptoms from January to June 2019.”

If the point of education is to prepare us for life after high school, we need to first focus on our mental health in order to do that. Some of us have already had to increase anti-anxiety medications and are sacrificing sleep to try to get through the beginning of the school year. Some of us don’t have time for therapy sessions that we need to have because of our workload. 

We are worried that our test scores are valued more than our well-being. In our classes, teachers talk about how they don’t have enough time to get through all the content. We are worried that we will get extra homework and extra work when teachers try to make up for missed content. 

For many of us, testing is unnecessarily stressful because test scores can be arbitrary based on the experience a student has on a specific day and it is tough not to compare scores to other students’ scores. The people scoring don’t see the hours of studying and videos and Khan academy that go into preparing for the test.

For others, who are not stressed about these tests, though we care about academics, we are noticing that we don’t care as much this year and that we are so stressed that we are zoning out. If we are getting to the point where many people are struggling, we need to focus on that. It’s hard for us to invest in content if we don’t first feel safe, happy, and comfortable. 

When we hear that the state is going to analyze the test results to see how we are doing, we feel like horses being bet on in the same race, except the track is full of mud. We feel like the state requirement for this test for us is sacrificing mental health so that numbers can look good on paper. 

Taking a test just as a benchmark for the State of Maryland to collect data doesn’t benefit students or teachers, or the school community.