State testing. Two words every high schooler hates when used in conjunction. The routine of getting to school by 8 am, only to sit in a room and take tests for upwards of two and a half hours can leave a student feeling fatigued and asking “Why?” Why the change of scheduling for two weeks? Why the cancellation of two tutorial sessions? Why should students even bother showing up and taking the test if it yields no benefit? It is an annual trend for the student body to raise these complaints to the administration and the administration to tweak the next year’s testing schedule accordingly. The truth of the matter is that despite how frustrating and exhausting state testing such as the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP), can be, the administration is not the enemy. Although the administration may seem like the villain, they do all they can in accommodating scheduling suggestions and making the testing time useful to those not taking the test, such as freshmen and seniors.
The administration can only be so creative when drawing up the CAASPP testing schedule each year. The state of California, which sets the guidelines for the testing window, has two strict periods that shape when the administration can administer the test to students. These being that the English and math sections (which are taken by juniors) of the test must be administered after 66 percent of the school year has occurred and that the science section (which is taken by sophomores) must be administered after March 20, according to the California Department of Education. These requirements put the administration in a bind, as these dates coincide in the midst of spring break, AP testing, and the approaching finals week. Although the weeks that CAASPP testing occurs is not up to the administration, the day of the week that testing occurs certainly is. The claim that CAASPP testing takes away two weeks worth of tutorials, valuable time that students could spend studying for AP tests and reviewing cumulative material, is a legitimate gripe. Simply moving the CAASPP tests from Tuesday to Thursday would allow students to go to two tutorials that they would not otherwise have. Outside of this suggestion, however, students really do not have the grounds to complain to the administration as the fault in timing lies in the hands of the state of California, not the PHS administration.
Another obstacle that the administration runs into when administering the CAASPP testing is the state mandated student participation threshold. At least 95 percent of students in each grade must take the test in order for the testing results from the school to count. This can quickly become a major problem for not only the administration, but the high school as a whole, including, the students. If PHS cannot obtain the required amount of participation for the CAASPP testing, then the state cancels Piedmont’s scores, no matter how close to 95 percent participation came. Piedmont ran into this problem several years ago and this led to Piedmont getting put on probation by the state. This probation removed Piedmont from all state ranks among best public schools in the state. At first glance, students may not care about probation, or may argue that getting excused from testing is worth Piedmont’s removal from state ranks. However, it turns out that state rank does directly affect the future of students as the school rank is included in the school profile, which is looked at by admissions officers from all colleges. Thus, skipping CAASPP testing may offer students a couple extra hours of sleep, but in the long run, participating in testing benefits both the student and the school district.
Minor tweaks, such as moving testing days from Tuesday to Thursday, may continue to be brought up to the administration and help the student body. However, students who get excused from testing or flat out skip testing are not answering the CAASPP testing question, but merely avoiding it while harming their own futures, fellow students, the administration, and the school district as a whole.