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Teachers say CAASP important, students say monotonous

Caption here. English Teacher Sherlyn Reafsnyder helps Junior Tyler Cross study for the CAASP tests. Photo by Bella Ferrari

The end of the year for Bruins means many things- the promise of sunshine and no homework, yet also an onslaught of controversial tests for upperclassmen.

CAASPP testing (otherwise known as the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress) is something that every juniorand now seniorhas to look forward to at the end of the year. It is a standardized and highly time-consuming test that changes Bear River’s schedule for two weeks.

Toby Barmeyer, an English teacher, described the overall reasoning for the CAASPP and CAST exams.

“[Its purpose is] to determine where students’ level of reading and writing skills are at, as well as math skills, and then we can compare it to not only other schools in our districts, but then across the state of California, and that way we can see if maybe we need to have more… like maybe students need more help in those areas.” said Miss Barmeyer.

Many seniors such as Skylar Allen said that they are frustrated by having to take yet another CAASPP test (known as CAST for California Science Test).

“Last year we were promised it would be the last year,” said Allen. “I think it’s a waste of time.”

Senior Josue Hurtado also said that he has a negative viewpoint on CAASPP testing.

“[It’s] boring, long, pointless, and it took time that I needed for other classes, a waste of my time,” said Hurtado.

Many staff members however, said that they have a more positive outlook on the relevancy of testing.

Sherlyn Reafsnyder, also an English Teacher, explained the long-term benefits CAASPP testing has.

“… it informs the student and his or her parents just how ready he or she is for college and/or career,” said Mrs. Reafsnyder. “The summer after the test is administered, a breakdown of skill results is available online for students to access in order to help them focus on areas of weakness.”

Miss Barmeyer described how she motivates her students to apply themselves when taking the test.

“I try to convey to them that this is important, and they have to try, and that it does reflect upon their abilities and the school’s and so we really want to model what they’ve learned so far,” she said. 

Senior Devin Crabb, reemphasized Miss Barmeyer’s point, proving that some students do recognize why the tests are administered.

“… it kind of gives the school a standpoint of where the students are at and where they are in classes,” Crabb said.

Junior Stuart Wenger relayed his opinions regarding standardized testing. 

“From the practice test it’s pretty standardized,” said Wenger. “I don’t really like standardized testing that much. I don’t think it evaluates what you can and can’t do very well.”

Hurtado found the exams to be relatively straightforward, and therefore unnecessary.

“[It was] easy,” he said. “I got advanced on both of them without even trying.”

It seems as though student and staff opinions will always differ, yet Mrs. Reafsnyder urged students to do their best because it could have negative implications on their futures if they don’t.

“The CAASPP instructions state that although the CAASPP results will not affect the application process, the results ‘can be used for placement in classes,’” said Mrs. Reafsnyder. “Consequently, it is VERY IMPORTANT that students do their best on the CAASPP as, at any point in their future, the results may be accessed by colleges and universities.”

Miss Barmeyer said something similar to Mrs. Reafsnyder, stating that the CAASP tests could be important for later job interviews.

“Oftentimes students just feel testing is something to get through as quickly as possible, not realizing the long-term ramifications of that test,” she said. “It is so very important for them and their future. When they put on their resume for a job that they attended Bear River High School in Grass Valley, California, students want prospective employers to know that they graduated from a school that performed well against other schools in the state. Employers want to hire competent employees with solid, core values who will represent their company well.”

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Teachers say CAASP important, students say monotonous