Editorial: Are Benchmarks Necessary?


DayOnna Carson

STUDENTS PONDER WHETHER BENCHMARKS ARE NECESSARY — Benchmarks have started this week, leaving many students anxious to find out their results.

DayOnna Carson, Editor in Chief

Monday, March 2, marked the beginning of benchmark testing for the third quarter of the 2019-2020 school year. With odd class periods meeting on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, and even class periods meeting on Tuesday and Thursday this week (with exception of 5th period), students have been working diligently to properly study for various benchmark tests.

Benchmark testing will go on for more than a week, wrapping up next Tuesday, March 10. After schools experienced technical difficulties with online testing software in years past, the Hamilton County Department of Education made the ultimate decision to have teachers administer benchmarks on paper.

These standardized quarterly assessments are crucial to Hamilton County’s understanding of whether or not students at each school are on track academically.

Although benchmarks are a required component of the school curriculum, according to the Hamilton County Department of Education, recently, there have been instances where the content of benchmark tests differed from the original standards and syllabi given to teachers.

Additionally, there have been many benchmark tests that were omitted from students’ final grade, which raises the question of the effectiveness of the benchmarks overall.

Some teachers have proposed that the state allow them to create their own benchmark assessments. Every instructor covers various standards in their own manner, so such a proposal would allow students to be tested on things that their teacher are certain they have learned. If such a policy were approved, test scores would surely rise, however, it would cut into teachers’ planning time.

Another concern among students is the frequency of the tests. The testing schedule has extended over time since some subjects such as algebra and geometry have exams split into three separate tests. This lengthened testing period also puts more stress on students, especially those with testing anxiety.

“I don’t understand why seniors are here at school. They should just let us go home since we don’t have any benchmarks to complete,” expressed Senior Elena Salgado.

Underclassmen typically have the most benchmark tests to complete, however, juniors, like seniors, receive fewer tests.

“I think benchmarks are kind of pointless,” said Senior Meghan Duncan. “It takes time away from our class time, and it takes time away from us studying for our final exams.”

Although several benchmark results have not counted against students in the past, final exams are always averaged into the students’ grade. Finals allow Hamilton County to assess what the students have retained from their courses. These exams also make up a higher percentage of students grade average.

Regardless, most everyone can agree that testing is the most common, simple way to see how much students are learning. By taking teachers’ and students’ wellbeing in consideration, Hamilton County’s ultimate goal is to make learning as easy and effective as possible.