Standardization in Southern Appalachia

Hello, I am Estefania Juarez, and I am from a small town in East Tennessee named Greeneville! I am currently a Sophomore at Tusculum University, majoring in Political Science and minoring in Gender Studies. I am a first-generation college student, and I am apart of the” Bonner Leader Program” at Tusculum, which offers diverse leadership dedicated to community service! My education experience was nothing short of dull. The teachers I had played a significant role in forming my education experience. All throughout my education, teachers formed my passion for learning and inspired me to pursue a higher education.

Where I am from, we have four county high schools and one city high school. The city high school is regarded more highly than the county schools and tends to receive more funding. Since the county schools were not as highly regarded, students at the county high schools had to work extra hard to prove that their school is just as worthy, often through scores on standardized tests. My high school focused heavily on standardized testing rather than teaching to inspire and spark innovation within students. The material being taught to us was no longer centered around learning new concepts to spark growth, but rather it became more focused on how to succeed at taking standardized tests. At my high school, students were being pressured by faculty and the county school board to perform well on these tests due to their reputation being at stake.

One of the first experiences I had with standardized testing was in Elementary School. In the third grade, I vividly remember taking the TCAP test at the end of the year and feeling the pressure to get a high score at such a young age. I have always loved school and felt really passionate about learning, but as soon as TCAPs and other standardized states became the new normal, my love for education started to diminish.  The material lost its significance, and I felt like I was learning through one lens. Teachers had to compress all the curriculum in such a short period of time in order for us to pass a test. As time goes on, education has become more about learning how to take a test rather than learning for self-enjoyment. 

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