Star Editorial for March

A-C-T Now: End the Test


Pippin Hart

In danger of drowning? The ACT has over 215 multiple choice questions

Silverado Star Staff, Editorial Board

On Feb. 25, between 600 and 650 students took to desks in this school-turned-testing-center and set to work on the ACT. Since it first became a graduation requirement for juniors state-wide in 2016, schools across Nevada have commandeered a day of classes to offer the exam, and students across Nevada have devoted varying time and effort to prepare.

Every junior has to take the test to graduate, but in light of the fact that students who aren’t planning to go to college are required to take this college-readiness test, the Star staff largely believes that requiring the ACT for graduation is unnecessary.

The test, as it stands, serves a practical purpose: it gets high-scorers into college. Everyone else, however, is at perfect liberty to throw it––and considering the dip in average scores Nevada saw after the requirement was instituted (from 21 to 17), throw it they did. 

Additionally, the state has poured ample faith into the ACT’s troubleshooting capacities, using scores to allocate funding for schools-in-need. This data-driven approach short-changes those who need help the most, because the ACT doesn’t measure the quality of education in a school, nor the skill or work ethic of the students taking it: it measures stamina and test-taking ability. 

“I’m a smart student, but under timed, misleading questions, I don’t always do well,” a Star staff member wrote. The sense of failure some students feel because this strenuous, three-hour exercise in patience neglects to show their abilities ought not be disregarded: it shows us the root of a much bigger problem. 

Even among Star staff members who find the test useful and support the graduation requirement, some still see it in a negative light.

“I’m taking it in a couple of days, and I have been worrying about it instead of doing my school work,” one wrote. “I think standardized tests shouldn’t be required as they are.” 

As they are denotes a philosophy that has wrongly driven education for decades: that success is college enrollment, and that success only matters on a narrow, strictly academic metric. 

The Star staff, even more than it opposes the ACT, views it as the product of a flawed system with skewed priorities. 

“School focuses on memorization and grades as opposed to actually learning,” another member wrote. “Everything about school is a means to an end.” 

This mercenary system fails to acknowledge the fact other sources of promise and potential exist, that its students’ peace of mind matters in any capacity, that learning is individualistic, and that students learn at their own volition for their own reasons. 

What we truly hope is that within the next generation, public education will have shifted, and that this shift will leave the ACT and other tests in its wake. 

“I don’t think I’ve gained anything through standardized testing,” a senior Star staff member wrote, a year out from the ACT. “There’s nothing enriching about sitting in a room and bubbling in answers.” 

And yet the entire state still takes it. But what else is new?