Deciding Who s Better
We ve all taken tests before. The ACT, the SAT, finals, and just the tests in our elementary through high school classes. Some of us felt pretty confident about our test taking skills and may see exams as a piece of cake. But we all have our bad days, with some of those bad days being a test day. Some of us are some the worst test-takers, but that doesn t mean that we don t know the material we re being tested on. But there are also those of us who do terrible on a test because we truly don t know the material. Just mentioning those types of groups that students are put in seems unfair to a lot of people. But I think that it has to be recognized that just because a person isn t doing well on exams doesn t mean that their just a bad test-taker or is having a bad day. In some cases, that person may need some extra tutoring in order to do better educationally.
Out the many ways that schools group their students, one method is how we are labeled according to the test scores we make throughout our educational lives. It starts pretty early in a person s life. Even simple quizzes or exams can be a decision-maker for a teacher on what type students they have in their class. Should this be the primary source of labeling a student s level of learning? I think that a progressive method using a number of tests to see how that student is doing is necessary. Tests/exams are used as a simple way to distinguish those who know the subject from those who supposedly don t. Keeping tabs on how a student is doing, and then coming to a conclusion, would be a better approach than using one exam. It gives the students who are good test-takers a better opportunity to show how much they really know. Using just one test puts too much on the student. It s also not a complete method of seeing where a student s problem points may be, if any.
My educational experiences have always been centered on the fact that you should always strive for an A or A+. It was the best way to go. Whether the subject was interesting or not didn t really matter. I guess that mindset can help in regards to keeping your grade card and GPA looking nice. But I was also labeled as a high achiever . I appreciated the positive reaction towards my effort at learning, but I also knew that just because everyone didn t do as well on exams as I did didn t mean they weren t high achievers too.
In as early as elementary school years, a student begins to be labeled by their educational performance. By fifth grade, they should know the basics of the mathematics, the groundwork of English grammar, simple historical facts, etc. They should have not just basic reading skills, but also the ability to understand what they re reading, not just how to pronounce the words. If a student doesn t initially know what they should have learned in previous grades, the teacher has to take more time to give more attention to getting them up to speed. At the same time, these students are labeled in a somewhat negative way since they re education level is not where it should be.
Putting a label like that on a student doesn t seem like the best action to take. It makes the underachievers feel like the other students are just smarter than they are. In some cases, the fact that they are behind in what they should already know is really the situation. But if one exam or test makes that conclusion, it hurts those students who are bad test takers and others that just simply are having a bad test day. Other students may also not care about whether they get a good test result or not even if they are very smart.
I don t think programs such as remedial classes are a bad thing. It gives those students who need that extra time a chance to get the education they missed out on in earlier school years. A student in a remedial group does have the chance of getting the label of an underachiever . True, this label is a negative one, but I would think that keeping them in the same class as other students would take away from those who aren t having any problems with learning the subject. The teacher would have to put more time into those who are having the harder time. I don t see it as some students learning more than others if those who are having trouble are already behind to begin with. Those who already behind get put even further back if they are pushed to keep up with something they re already having trouble understanding.
I was always labeled as a high achiever and was generally put in the groups where we got our assignments and were trusted to complete them on our own. The groups that I was generally put in consisted of students who didn t ask a million questions about just one problem. Saying, I don t understand this or This is too hard for me never came up. If we did have a question, we asked, but we only had a few questions, if any. One of the reasons why my classes were grouped that way was because my teachers would have to take extra time teaching the lessons over and over again to those who were behind. I felt somewhat cheated because not too much attention got paid to me. I was given my assignment and was told to turn it in when I got done. I was given the impression that since I was such a bright and ambitious student, my teacher can leave all this up to me while I deal with the classmates who really need the help.
I understand that in order for a teacher to at least know how much their students know in regards to the subject, a test may be necessary. I think it s also necessary for those students who aren t up to speed to get more attention paid to their learning. But that would take away from those students who don t need that extra attention. It would seem that the next step would be to separate the students who need the extra help from those who don t. That s where the problem with labeling comes in.
The labeling of what type of student you are can be a blow to the self-esteem of a student if the label s a negative one. That s why if the stigma that comes with classes like remedial ones wasn t as negative as it is, it would be easier for students to accept that they do need more help with keeping up to speed with their learning. We should be giving them the impression that the learning process they re going through is to better their education, and not to push them aside and progress with the better students. Every student needs encouragement, even those who may be in a remedial class. I feel that progression should be made in remedial classes, but essentially the students in those classes have to get up the level their supposed to be in the first place. If not, they will continue to have a hard time in a regular class setting. If an English teacher is going to teach literature in their class, those students who are still having trouble reading, or understanding the grammar of what they re reading, going into the depth of the actual literature is going to be very difficult for the teacher. More time is going to have to be put into helping those students who are still learning how to read or understanding the sentences that their reading. That will take more time away from the initial literature lesson.
Just because you may be in a remedial class doesn t mean that you re slow . I think that the effort should be in erasing the stigma that comes with that label. Classes for those who are having trouble learning are necessary in my opinion, and they don t have to be looked upon shamefully. If the student s focus was on making progress with their education and not the fact that they re in a special class to do it, self-confidence wouldn t be much of an issue.
Whether you re in a special class, an average student, or someone who s considered a high achiever , no one s better than the other. We all have to learn. Some students are going to have a harder time than others do. Other students are also going to go without that special help. That s one reason why they are constantly behind in every grade. But instead of taking the steps to get them back on track, even if it means repeating the grade, they re kept in classes that are continually hard for them.