Numbers or nothing

Wambui Chege

Sports & Health Editor

Every year, millions of students across the nation will spend several nights without sleep,
days skipping meals, and weeks cramming for exams. All this in order to preserve their pristine transcripts and get the right number on their next test. There is an epidemic affecting students around the world. Numbers, as in scores and grade point averages, are beginning to define and shape who a student is destined to become. Whether that number is a 1400 on the SAT, a 32 on the ACT, or a 5 on an AP exam, these scores are starting to make students feel as if their worth, not only as a student but also as a person, is embedded in the number that appears next to their name.

Beginning in early elementary school, tests such as the CogAT and the Iowa test are used
to place students into certain classes labeled AC, Intermediate, and On-level. This system of categorizing students then creates a culture within the school community of dividing students based on their intellectual capacity, therefore limiting students to spend time with certain peers. From that point on, students are challenged to the level to which they need, but they are not able to fraternize with those who may be different from them. This pattern then continues into high school, as students begin to pick classes that will be best for them. Though this process is mostly beneficial to students as they need to be challenged, some honors and AP classes stress the importance of the score that the student receives at the end of the year over actually learning the material. Lassiter senior Gabby Buttry states, “I think that our scores have been a defining factor throughout our education. Starting in as early as elementary school with programs such as Target, and into high school where SAT/ACT scores are emphasized to be high.”
The effect of these scores on students’ lives is most realized when students are preparing
to apply to colleges. Freshman profiles and admission prerequisites make some students fearful for their further education if they do not have certain scores. Though it is necessary for some schools to keep their requirements high for reputation and standard reasons, a student should not begin to feel less self-worth because of one single test. In fact, scores reported to colleges only show a small part of the whole. “Although most colleges do offer personal essays, where some of one’s personality can shine through, most merely look at test scores and grades. I feel like a score doesn’t tell the full story. In fact, it doesn’t even scratch the surface, so I think this is a very disappointing reality we as students must face,” shares Lassiter senior Grace Karas. Though this has become a harsh reality for many students nationwide, there is some hope for those who feel completely defined by their scores. Within some high schools, there are programs such as STEM and art tracks that can help those not as strong in one area, become more focused and specialized in what they are interested in. Also, at the college level, more schools are taking into account the activities done outside of school, such as sports and
community work. This world has adopted a competitive nature, which will help to propel society forward, but it is always beneficial to see the person behind the number too. “I don’t think that scores should determine the way a student views themselves. We all have our bad days and our good days, but at the end of the day, we are all just people,” states Lassiter junior Caitlin Sasapan.