Not All Sophomores Should Take Geometry MCAS

Not All Sophomores Should Take Geometry MCAS

Carolyn Fenerty

Sophomore Emily Mariano doing her Algebra II (Honors) homework

Carolyn Fenerty, Writer

The majority of sophomores do not take geometry this year, but all sophomores are required to pass the geometry MCAS this May.

The geometry MCAS for 2014 takes place on Tuesday May 13 and Wednesday May 14. Every sophomore in the state of Massachusetts (in Massachusetts public schools) is required to pass MCAS testing in order to graduate from high school.

Standardized tests have several advantages, including forcing teacher accountability, predicting students’ abilities, and providing a standard and objective method for measuring both teachers ability to teach the curriculum and students understanding of required curriculum.

However, standardized tests also have many disadvantages, including putting tremendous pressure to succeed on students already anxious over grades and the looming threat of college. Standardized testing has also been accused of leading to “teaching to the test” and narrow curriculum rather than encouraging critical and innovative thinking.

A major reason for all sophomores taking MCAS is that it is easier to give standardized tests all at once. It is more manageable to organize all students in a grade level to take the test at the same time rather than at individual times. Because all students must have taken the course prior to the test, many sophomores have moved past geometry to Algebra II, Pre-Calculus, and even Calculus by the time of MCAS testing.

This means that most sophomores have not taken geometry since freshman year or even middle school; it would be more fair for students to be tested on the material at the same time they learned it, rather than several years afterward.

As long as all students take the MCAS, they should be allowed to take the test when they know the material and move at their own pace; that is the point of taking different math courses in the same year based on math skill.

Another argument for all students taking standardized tests together is that the results are more comparable; the state  looks at MCAS scores to determine whether schools meet a certain standard. MCAS allows  students to be compared fairly and equally, in spite of what math class they take sophomore year or placement in college preparatory, honors, or even advanced placement classes.

However, it can be counter-argued that students who are more advanced in math should be rewarded for excelling with an advantage in terms scoring in order to encourage academic success and possible money for college.

Instead of the current system, the geometry MCAS could be organized similarly to the SATs, meaning that students would sign up to take the test on certain scheduled days when they feel prepared. This would allow students that can take the MCAS anytime between the eighth and tenth grades and then let students be tested on the curriculum at the same time they would learn it.

With this method, certain days every year could be set for optional MCAS testing. The geometry MCAS would still be mandatory, but the year it was taken would be up to each student in order for the MCAS to be taken when a student still had the information fresh in his or her mind in order to produce more accurate results and higher test scores.