A New Elective: Standardized Test Prep at Latin

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Iz Gius On February 1st, a push page from Mr. Coberly announced a brand-new addition to Latin’s course catalog—an ACT/SAT test preparation class. Optional, ungraded, and aimed at next year’s juniors, the class will meet during roughly half of the blocks in a cycle, only during the fall semester. According to Mr. Coberly’s message, which was tailored specifically to the Class of 2018, this elective is “in keeping with the school’s holistic approach to the college process” and aims to provide students “with all possible tools that will empower them in their college search” and “ease the level of stress for many of our busy juniors.” Another important goal of the new course is to “eliminate the need for students to seek test preparation classes outside of school” and to hopefully level the playing field for students at Latin who may not have the time, or the financial means, for personalized tutoring otherwise. For many upperclassmen at Latin, enrolling in programs like Academic Approach and one-on-one tutoring sessions can seem expected and commonplace. But with fees rising into the hundreds of dollars, that kind of individualized and structured preparation is certainly not possible for every student. This new class, the administration hopes, will alleviate some of that pressure. Opinions, even among the grades, vary significantly. Some students believe that the class is a step in the right direction. Junior Abigail Garber, who uses outside-of-school test prep options, feels that the new class “will be personalized and helpful to managing stress.” She continues, “I’ve had a tutor since August and it’s been an amazing resource. It only makes sense to let everyone at Latin, even people who can’t pay, have the same kind of opportunities.” Others, though, namely the juniors, feel that the test prep class goes against our values as a school. Deon Custard explained that it “would only contribute to the culture that is stress at Latin.” And junior Grace Coberly agrees, “I think it’ll add a lot of negative stress to the Latin community. Students are constantly reminded that the SAT shouldn’t be a prime focus—that school is more important than standardized testing—so bringing the tests into the school seems very hypocritical.” Kathryn Stender expressed a similar fear, “I worry that the course will make standardized testing seem as important as other classes and meaningful learning in general.” Still, for many sophomores, the class is a welcome addition to their course options for next year. One sophomore expressed her excitement for the class, “I’ll definitely be signing up for it. It makes a lot of sense for Latin to offer test prep, instead of making students hire outside companies or tutors.” Whatever the general consensus, the new SAT/ACT test preparation elective will be rolling out for the 2016-17 school year, and has the potential to drastically change how standardized testing is done at Latin. Feel free to leave your own opinion below: is the new class a much-needed resource for students? Or a hypocritical move?]]>