Quizzes? Tests? They are not helping anyone


Photo Courtesy of Jeremy Fredricks.

A project in Honors Spanish 3, is the drawing of a spaceship, and writing sentences about the spaceship.

By Jeremy Fredricks, Assistant Opinion Editor

Churchill students are used to spending their evenings studying for multiple quizzes and tests. Yet, students aren’t really learning and retaining the necessary information for their respective quizzes and tests.

Quizzes and tests are often multiple choice and require knowledge of very specific information. However, this specific information that students are being required to learn will most often not be used in their daily lives.

Students with good test taking skills such as guess and check, answer elimination, and the use of context clues usually can find the correct answer even if they aren’t completely sure. Instead, students should focus on actually understanding the material, rather than just memorizing random facts about it.

In Honors U.S. History, the teachers have started a new method in which students learn at their own pace and in their own way. In order to learn about a topic, some can choose to watch videos or read an article. This is more beneficial for students because they can actually learn the information in a way that is comfortable for them, making the learning process more efficient.

Other classes need to start implementing methods similar to this. For students who aren’t planning on becoming biologists, it is not important to learn the nitty gritty of DNA. Students need to know the general information of chromosomes determining genes, not the unnecessary details.

If teachers really want their students to learn the given material, they should assign more projects that relate to student’s interests, while still making the student more familiar with the topic.

According to an INSERT abbreviated month and year of the article Accredited Schools Online article, keeping grades up to get into college becomes increasingly difficult as classes become more challenging. Part of the reason that classes become more challenging is that students are forced to take tests and remember the information. Thus, students feel more pressure to do well on these assessments since they make up a huge portion of the points in the quarter. However, students are not actually learning anything from them.

Accredited Schools Online adds how teachers can work together as a team to avoid scheduling tests on the same day. If students have multiple quizzes on a day, they will not be able to focus on specific information which will be tested. Students end up focusing only on general ideas and subsequently end up performing poorly on their assessments.

Ultimately, students need more projects as a replacement. Projects are more beneficial for students because they give them the opportunity to work in class, allocating more time to ask teachers or other students questions. Being able to clarify confusion will help students understand the assignment more, have more time to make improvements before submitting work, and ultimately help them to earn a better grade. Here are the reasons as to why:

Secondly, students will be able to spread out their work rather than cramming it all in on the day before it is due. They can work in class for a couple of days, and focus on a specific part of the project each day so they can actually understand and retain it.

Third, it causes less stress for students because teachers tend to be more lenient on projects, as the correct answer or presentation is not as black and white as it is on a standardized multiple choice test. On a quiz or test, the answer is either right or wrong, but on a project, students are more likely to earn partial credit.

Fourth, it is more meaningful to students because they get to be creative. Projects allow students to utilize their interests and individual capabilities in school. Projects allow them to show off their skills and show their passions. According to a INSERT month and year Harvard Medical School article, simple things such as making artwork can give you a much-needed break from the stressors in your life. This will also allow students to feel less pressured because they can draw, paint, design or color – which are great ways to destress.

Fifth, students can work at their own pace and  have the option to learn information in their own way – some use notes, while others use videos or images. Students can then incorporate their own ways of learning to the project by incorporating features that allow them to learn in the best way possible. Education becomes more personalized and meaningful when students feel as if they are genuinely becoming more knowledgeable on a subject through methods that they can choose.

Sixth, students get to know each other. On group projects, students can choose who they work with, allowing them to socialize and meet new people. This can lead to new friendships or improved existing ones.

Seventh, students get a chance to learn new tools on the computer. They get the opportunity to learn how to use different things on Google Slides such as changing the text, font, color, size, adding shapes and images and videos, making charts and graphs, and designing- skills that they will use in college and in their future endeavors.

Churchill wouldn’t be the only school to add projects to the curriculum instead of quizzes and tests.

At University of California, Berkeley, chemistry students did a project instead of taking a test- and the results were a success. The U. Ca., Berkeley, website said that, in the Spring 2005 semester, 84% of the students stated that project increased their ability to apply chemistry to things beyond the textbook.

A Jan. 2015 N.P.R article said the New York Performance Standards Consortium consists of 28 middle and high schools, which use teacher-created assessments and projects to the exclusion of standardized tests. These public schools tend to show higher graduation rates and better college-retention rates.

MCPS has already made some changes. They removed final exams and replaced them with projects. Patricia O’Neill, Former Montgomery County Board of Education President, in a Washington Post interview in 2015, said how they’re trying to regain more instructional time, since parents and educators want more teaching and less testing.

Forget ‘quiz skills.’ Stop spending hours a night studying for some test, when the information you study will most likely never be used again after the class. Goodbye stress, and say hello to projects: the new, improved, actually-learning-and-retaining-the-facts way to be ‘quizzed’ on what you need to know.