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Throughout high school, there’s one day that every teenager looks foreword to: Graduation. It’s the end of some things and the beginning of others, as teens try to find their place in the world.
In order to receive a diploma, a student must earn all of the required academic credits and pass the Standard Based Assessment. The state of New Mexico chose the SBA as the common graduation test for all New Mexico public schools.
Students take the SBA their junior year and have several opportunities over the next five years, if they do not pass the assessment. The test’s purpose, similar to MAPS testing, is also to measure adequate yearly progress among students.
Los Alamos High School Principal Sandy Warnock said, “It’s always interesting and fun to see the progress of our kids, especially since there is so much progress.”
However, this year due to financial constraints, the SBA will not be applied as the graduation test. In fact, this year’s juniors do not have a graduation test. As a result, all of them will graduate as long as they receive all of the required credits.
This was decided when the students were halfway though completing the SBA. Whitney Pomeroy, a literature and creative writing teacher, said, “I understand the reasons for the SBA not counting as the graduation test, I just don’t understand the state’s lack of communication. I don’t like to deceive my students.”
The SBA will still contribute to AYP and will most likely continue as the graduation test next year. Warnock is not worried about the graduation of this year’s juniors at Los Alamos High School. “Almost every student attended and they did an exceptional job,” she said.
Holly Phillips in the special education department agreed with Warnock.
“This year’s kids really applied themselves and took it seriously.” She also explained that the SBA is beneficial for teachers because they can hear the kids’ reactions to the test and improve their teaching techniques by adjusting more to the students’ needs.
On the other hand, many students dislike the SBA.
“SBA testing takes away valuable classroom time and is not an accurate evaluation of our knowledge,” junior Elizabeth Brug said.
“I just don’t like it. It’s so long and a waste of my time,” said junior Noel Apodaca.
Many students argued that the test was too long and that they had a hard time concentrating.
Science teacher Kathleen Boerigter explained, “I don’t like that it takes up so much valuable class time that students benefit from. I’d rather the final exams of each of the individual classes replace the SBA.”
The SBA continues to be revised and scaled to better measure the proficiency of students. Like all tests, it has good and bad qualities that not every one agrees on, but it’s one of those things that will get teens closer to graduating and starting their own lives.
Dana Crooks is a sophomore at LAHS.