The 2021 PSAT set LOHS students up for failure

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Gracie Cox, Opinions Editor

Straying from the road of normalcy yet again, LOSD made great changes in their offering of the PSAT. As COVID seemingly alters all aspects of life and school, this was to be expected. Still, considering the circumstances, the school district did a great disservice to its high school students in making decisions that could negatively impact our lives for years to come.

Let’s start by going over the differences between this year’s PSAT and that of years past. For the 2021 PSAT, only juniors were allowed to enroll, while previously freshmen, sophomores and juniors all took the test. This may sound like a logical decision as juniors are the students who will be taking their college entrance exams sooner rather than later, but taking the PSAT benefits all students in an attempt to prepare them for their future of standardized testing. As disheartening as it is, our performances on tests like the SAT, ACT and even AP exams can have drastic effects on our futures. So, preparing for them as early as freshman and sophomore year, even though it may seem excessive, is helpful in the long run, and with taking practice tests being one of the most effective ways to prepare and learn what you need to study, taking the PSAT is the way to go.

Another key change was the scheduling and location of the test. For half of the juniors who signed up, they were instructed to take their PSAT on Saturday, Oct.16 at Lakeridge High School while the second half took theirs on Oct. 26 at Lake Oswego High School. Compared to previous years when the test was administered at LOHS during a special half-day, this was a shock to the system, and the junior class. For those who were scheduled on Saturday, arrangements had to be made to take a special trip to LHS, commitments had to be shoved aside and worst of all, everyone had to wake up early on a Saturday. This seemed difficult enough, but the second half fared even worse. They had to miss their B5 and B6 classes, and after taking their test, finish out the rest of the school day rather than it being a half-day where you simply go home afterward. For teachers, this situation complicated their plans. The majority had only heard the news a few days prior and struggled to decide if they were to continue on with class as usual with a great deal of their class gone, or call off their plans for the class and designate it as a work period. The burden of the PSAT weighed heavily on everyone’s backs, not just the students who took it.

The largest flaw I saw with the PSAT is one that is often overlooked. That is the fact that it was optional. In past years, everyone eligible to take the PSAT was required to do so. It became a scheduled day of the school year and each and every freshman, sophomore and junior was escorted into their testing rooms and handed their booklet. Some think that making the test optional was a good decision because it allowed students who didn’t care to not waste their time taking yet another standardized test. I understand this argument, but I think it ignores the fact that we sometimes, as students, let our laziness and exhaustion make our decisions for us, leading us to turn down important opportunities such as the PSAT. It’s easy to pick getting a few extra hours of sleep or getting extra time to work on homework in class over taking the test, but it’s the wrong decision when it comes to the grand scheme of college readiness.

Following the harmful decisions made, I can only hope that this pattern does not continue. It is clear that this year’s changes to the PSAT were not meant to purposefully mar students, but I guarantee that their effects will be visible in the months and years ahead. Here’s hoping that the district learns from mistakes made in 2021 for the sake of all future LO graduates.