What Have We Come To?
I absolutely hate to say it, but our society right now is focused on grades and grades alone. Grades on report cards, grades on essays, grades on attitude, grades on standardized tests, just grades. If something does not have a point value or grade assigned to it, then we do not care. Learning for the sake of learning does not matter if we do not have the grade to show for it. What caused this revelation on my part? I was sitting in class and my teacher told my half of the room to "grow a pair" because no one was saying anything. That was when I immediately thought to myself that unless there is a point value assigned to something, people (especially teens) just don't care. We were talking about the immigration bill in Arizona if anyone cares to know the specifics.
Report Cards are the most important thing for teens in high school. Not just report cards, but getting A's on report cards. Everyone wants to get an A; everyone needs to get an A.
B's are not even acceptable anymore. Our society thinks that if you are going to get a B you may as well just get a C or a D. No one even thinks along the grade scale anymore. A grade of C was, still is, and will always be AVERAGE. There is nothing wrong with a C, it means that you are average. A grade of B is ABOVE average. An A is a display of excellence in the subject. Not everyone can get an A, if everyone did, then what would it be worth? If everyone got an A, they why would anyone try to learn anymore or challenge themselves? Report cards reflect current society's attitude towards grades. For a student who gets all A's and a single B, he feels like a failure because he was not able to earn straight A's. That one B tarnishes the look of the report to the student because society demands straight A's from the smart.
Then there are the SAT's that every high school student has to take. The average score is around 1500 on the new 2400 point scale, but society demands scoring above 1800 to go anywhere “decent” and above 2100 to go to a “good” college. Granted, there are exceptions, but overall, this single number decides the future of students. Even more so than report cards, society required a high standardized test number to succeed. Students start to focus not on education, but on learning the specific things that are on the SAT. They learn how to take the test rather than learning something new and enriching. Integrity, personality, and other abilities are not measured by these standardized tests, just a few limited subjects in a short amount of time. Although these tests do not mean anything about students or represent them in any way, shape, or form, society demands them as a comparison to others. Society states that the grade/number is necessary to succeed in life.
While tests and reports do have their place in life, they are stifling out regular education. Tests are now the preferred method to make sure that students are learning, so teachers teach specifically to the tests. A perfect example of this is an AP class. There is a huge comprehensive test in May for all AP classes, so teachers need to teach the standard, nationwide curriculum to their students by test day so that they can compete with all of the other students. The teachers teach specifically to the test, nothing more and nothing less. In reality, there is no time to teach anything else outside of the curriculum in AP classes because the class follows a rigorous enough pace as it is. There is more material to cover and less time than in regular classes, so there is only enough class time to prepare for the test itself. Any additional learning must be done during the student's free time.
Society demands many thing of teens today, but grades should not be one of them. Not everyone is a genius and not everyone deserves an A. Unfortunately, our society states that only those who get A's will succeed in life. This is the cold, hard truth. Directly above is a picture of one of the contributing factors to our society of grades: CollegeBoard. This company has made standardized tests the norm for high school students. It is sad how much CollegeBoard has ruined their lives. What is even more sad is that 50, even 30 years ago, this society of grades did not exist; education actually meant something more than tests and grades. Education should teach students valuable life lessons; it should not be the memorization of monotonous facts to pass a test. Grades have their place, but right now, ambitious teens live for them. This is wrong. It is sad that we have truly become a society of grades.
The AP Student
The Importance of Standardized Tests
The Real Reason Why School is so Competitive