By: Caitlin Haggerty
Ingrained in its culture and core principles, Beaver emphasizes the importance of hands-on learning, problem-solving, and collaboration. For many students, their enrollment in Beaver has changed their perspective and approach to learning, pushing them to think past facts and statistics and into meaningful discussions. So, when students embark on the college application process and eventually start their journey in college, they are prepared to think deeply and critically. But, when their classes require midterm exams or tests, this skill may not show its true strengths.
The concept of a sit-down exam has become almost foreign to the students of Beaver. Many classes have students “show what they know” through projects, collaborative problem sets, or presentations. These are all critical skills, but so are studying and testing tactics. Students must learn to study for tests because, most likely, they will have to take them after high school. The Beaver community may need to ask itself, will the limited-testing-style education at Beaver benefit students past high school? What small tweaks could we make to the curriculum so students receive all the skills they need?
A senior student, Gina Lombard ‘20, shared how she feels on this topic. Lombard says that she “learns more in the more project-based classrooms because we learn more real-world things”, but she felt “so unprepared for the SATs because we don’t test.” On the contrary, Rebecca Skoler ‘20 brings up a bigger picture: are test-taking skills our biggest problem in preparing students for life beyond high school? Skoler emphasizes that if Beaver students do not know how to “handle pressure or behave in professional environments, they will not be prepared for the real world”. Further, having these skills builds independence, which is, in all, the ideal outcome of learning to test.
There are countless benefits to experiential learning and it is no secret that testing is a common aspect of many colleges. By acknowledging this fact, Beaver could integrate testing skills into the Beaver curriculum, or direct it towards building self-reliance and confidence in one’s skills, across the academic board. While tests and exams may seem intimidating and not very appealing, adding them into our school lives may benefit us in the long run.