From the pages of
The Sublette County Journal
Volume 5, Number 9 - 10/26/00
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

WyCAS: A Student's Point of View

by Kimberly Brokling

As a student at Pinedale High School, I feel that I have a responsibility to put in my two cents worth about the WyCAS tests. First, I believe that the idea of ranking schools is, for lack of a better word, stupid. Furthermore, the amount of time it takes for the schools to complete the tests takes up time that could better be used for teaching. In addition to this, the WyCAS only tests proficiency in three subjects.

Although I understand that taxpayers and newspaper editors all want to see if the money they pour into education is accounted for, I don't think that the WyCas scores are a very good measurement. As far as I'm aware, the only grades that are measured are 4th, 8th, and 11th. These scores are too far apart to measure anything accurately. One could change this by testing every year so that trends could be established and either encouraged or obliterated. When the testing is so far apart, it is almost impossible to tell where problems in the education occur. To the best of my understanding, the WyCas is intended to tell which schools are having problems in education.

Although this plan sounds simple enough, I don't believe that it will work as intended because some students are better at taking tests than others, and some students care more than others. In all truth, the students are fed up with the tests, the lectures about the tests, and anything else that involves anything to do with the WyCas. Last year, the juniors were taken out of class every day for about three weeks before the WyCas tests were taken. Part of that time was used as a review over basic concepts of the test, but the vast majority of the time consisted of the high school principal yelling and lecturing about the importance of the WyCAS tests. Now, would somebody please explain to me how that benefits our education? Not only does that hurt the juniors because they are missing class, but it also makes it difficult for the teachers to teach anyone else. Nobody wants to teach a class if only half of the students are there and the rest will have to make up the work later.

In my memory and according to the article "Pinedale Schools 5th Best Overall in State for 2000 WyCas Scores," only 3 subjects are tested by the WyCas.

These subjects are very important as they include reading, writing, and math. However, it leaves out many other important subjects such as government, history, science, and many others. It seems odd to me that students should only be proficient in three categories.

I do not think that graduation should be dependent on the WyCas tests- or if it is, I believe that the student should be able to choose when they take the tests. If the student is not having a "good test day" it seems ridiculous to prevent them from graduating. It has been pointed out to me that there are several occasions when there are only one-chance tests.

However, I seriously doubt that these one chance deals occur in 4th grade, or 8th grade for that matter. By the time one is in 11th grade, they should be able to pass the test, but it is much better if one has more than one opportunity to do so.

I believe that a lot of unjust criticism is given to teachers. I'm around teachers everyday and I see that a lot of them work their butts off for us students. Granted, it's somewhat annoying when teachers simply hand out a worksheet (straight out of the workbook), sits at their desk in the back of the room and I walk back to find them immersed in their fifth game of solitaire or filling out playoff charts. But at the same time, there are the teachers that spend hours making their own labs and worksheets, as well as lecturing and answering questions. These are the same teachers that I see at every game, every performance by the band or choir, the teachers that are with the students at lunch and before and after school. I believe that these people do their best to give students an education and they deserve little or no criticism about WyCas test scores. Some teachers don't feel inclined to limit their teaching to the contents of a single test that only encompasses 3 subjects.

Aside from the view inside of the school, and back to what the taxpayers want- a way to measure how the 75% (according to Rob's editorial) of their property taxes used for education is doing any good. What I want to know is how much of that money is being used to administer the tests.

As an ending to my statement, I see that some measure of accountability does need to be set up, but I also see that there are many, many problems that need to be fixed before anyone can be put under any scrutiny or any measurements taken.

Kimberly is a sophomore at Pinedale High School and a staff writer for the Journal.

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The Sublette County Journal, PO Box 3010, Pinedale, WY 82941   Phone 307-367-3713
Publisher/Editor: Rob Shaul