Too much emphasis is placed on testing

For years, City Honors has promoted itself as a top school in the region by providing students with a more rigorous course load than other public schools. In the last decade, the district has pushed heavily for the International Baccalaureate program, in turn boosting City Honors’ rankings even further. The reality, though, is that the rankings are not an accurate measure of the students’ success.

The Washington Post lists City Honors as the 21st top public school in the nation; however, the ranking it uses is reflective of an education system that puts standardized testing above the learning experience. The Post’s ranking is determined by totaling the number of Advanced Placement and IB exams administered in a year and dividing that by the number of graduating seniors. It does not account for how well the students actually perform on the exams, meaning that City Honors’ results are skewed because it requires its students to take almost exclusively AP and IB exams, with limited class choice and in some cases not enough time in the school year to complete the course material.

In 2012, Newsweek ranked City Honors first out of 20 public schools in the Northeast using a similar ranking, yet of these schools it had the second-lowest average AP score – 2.8 – too low to qualify for college credits. The IB program is perhaps the clearest example of this rankings push. It is presented to potential candidates as the ideal college prep, yet it is not widely recognized by colleges. Only a minority of the IB courses offered at City Honors qualify for college credit.

With the national trend of standardized testing, perhaps City Honors should change its motto from “knowledge for the sake of knowledge” to “testing for the sake of testing.”

Conor Stillwell

2013 City Honors Graduate