Are Mandated Tests Beneficial To Students?


Angelina Balusek, Editor

As we enter exam season, more and more students are struggling with AP Exams and STAAR tests each year. In fact, 35-40% of students failed the STAAR test in 2022, and only 50% of kids made qualifying scores on their AP Exams. So, this begs the question, are we failing our students, or is the state/CollegeBoard?

Former college professor, Annie Abrams, has experienced teaching an actual college English course as well as teaching high schoolers an AP Literature class. “The difference between those experiences was really disturbing to me,” Abrams said. 

While AP classes are very rigorous, many students argue that it helped them develop necessary habits for college. “In my personal experience, the AP classes I completed in high school were helpful in preparing me for the workload and academic standards of college courses,” Noah Falk, former Clear Springs student, said. “Needless to say, the sheer difficulty of an AP level course requires students to take their work seriously. This may lead to the development of healthy study habits and increased class participation in order to achieve success.”

STAAR tests are only present in Texas, with every student in the state being required to take them each year. The Texas curriculum has been shaped around TEKS (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills), which “prepares” students for the STAAR test that moves a child up to the next grade level. 

The Texas legislature is trying to pass bills to replace the STAAR test. However, currently they’ve all been unsuccessful. Some students do incredible in the actual course, but come time for the exam, they fail. This has to do with proper preparation, test anxiety, and the actual formatting of these exams. 

The only flaw I would attribute to the AP program is the weight both students and teachers place on the end-of-year exam.  Sure, it determines if the class will count for college credits, but it shouldn’t be the only indicator of the student’s proficiency in a highly-academic subject,” Falk said. “Students who ‘fail’ their final exam and receive no college credit as a result should not be discouraged, but instead reflect on the growth they’ve likely made over the course of the year.”