Tuesday, June 14, 2011

To Test or Not To Test

Apple in late Fall

A popular question I've been getting lately from Juniors is: should I take the Physics Regents? The short answer is: Yes. The long answer is: Yeeessssssss.

When someone asks that question, my answer mainly comes from a philosophical place. I truly believe that ElRo is one of the best schools in the city. I think we have talented students, strong teachers, and a devoted parent population. If anyone in the city should be taking the Physics Regents, it is us. We want to talk the talk? We have to walk the walk. That means when you take a Regents course and you sit for the Regents exam.

Do I think every ElRo student is expected to get 100? No. One of the best things about our school is that we have every student take three years of lab science: Biology, Chemistry, and Physics. But not every one of our students is a scientist, so it is only natural for some people to struggle in these courses and on these Regents. But that only reinforces the idea that we aim to teach our students not because we are chasing perfect numbers on a transcript, but because we think that even the writers and the artists and the historians should be exposed to Newton and Einstein.

Colleges focus on your transcript. Yes, they will see your Regents scores. But the classroom grades carry far more weight. I'd even go so far as to say they carry all of the weight at many private colleges and schools out of state. For those colleges that are more familiar with Regents, the Physics exam is never going to be the most crucial. Basic math and ELA? Yes, for those you really should earn at least an 85. But for 'bonus' tests like Physics, just having done your best and taken the test is going to show the admission office that you are committed to your education.

Lastly, it is only fair to your teachers to sit for the exam so they can have a better grasp of how they did over the course of the last year. If you don't even sit for the test, how will the department know where they have gone wrong and what they have done right? You owe it to them to give up those few hours in order to demonstrate your knowledge.

Embrace the challenge. Push yourself. Eleanor Roosevelt said you should do one thing per day that scares you. I think we've got June 15th covered.