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CSAPs: There must be a better way

This week, hundreds of underclassmen arm themselves with pencils and brain power to complete the CSAP (Colorado Student Assessment Program) tests. These tests have been the talk of many students lately. Some groan about them, and others are anxious. These tests, however, loom ominously in front of every freshman and sophomore in Colorado.

I remember being in their place, getting a good night’s rest and eating a good breakfast in order to try to meet state standards.

Looking back on my 12 years of education, I realize that my most valuable education was not strictly in textbooks, reciting facts by rote, or scoring high on standardized tests. My true education was in those crystallized moments, characterized by epiphanies about life, or the world around me.



Sometimes I wonder about students and standardized tests. Colleges do not look at CSAP scores, and they have no impact on students’ GPA. For some students, there is little or no motivation to score well on the tests. Good students who normally have a good work ethic will score well, and students who don’t care about school won’t care about the tests either.

Standardized tests may test the capacity for retention of information, but it is not likely that they will show the brilliance of students who are simply not adept at test taking. I cannot count the times I’ve talked with friends who simply had a bad day and did not get a section finished or have lost the motivation to test to the best of their ability (considering that it is the end of the year). Spring fever is in full swing, and the last thing many students want to do is take tests. It is difficult to maintain motivation to finish the school year, much less score well on superfluous tests.



I am not vehemently opposed to standardized tests because the state must have some avenue through which to gauge the effectiveness of public education. However, there must be a better way to gauge students’ progress.

CSAP scores are bar graphs, reports, thousands of students turned into statistics. High school shouldn’t be about strictly training students to regurgitate information, but to truly learn about being well-adjusted citizens of society.

To me, the most impacting moments of my education were not when we received our test scores, but moments spent in discussion and learning how to apply my education. I hope that our society does not reach the point where we compete for that extra increment on the bar graph, neglecting the most important part of education – the students, the humanity, that sit in those desks each day.


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