By: Melanie Williamson
Roughly a dozen students stood outside Vermilion High School on Tuesday, May 23, during the special school board meeting to protest state testing. Two of these students, Sawyer Nauert and Sierra Scott, came in to voice their concerns to the school board and those in attendance at the meeting.
Nauert explained that he did not feel the state tests were a fair or accurate representation. He furthered his argument by asserted that “students are standardized, so tests shouldn’t be.” Scott added that the state tests are supposed to be end of quarter testing, but they are administered two months before the end of the quarter, which means there are things on the tests they have not learned yet.
As they did in earlier meetings, the school board members and superintendent Phil Pempin, shared with the students that they agree the state tests are too much and not a fair means of grading. Pempin again explained that while their options are limited, the district is exploring what options they have in regards to state testing.
Nauert stated that they want to continue to protest, and they are hoping to get students from other districts involved. Board member Nancy Oates strongly suggested that if they want to really be heard, they start writing to state representatives. She told them they need to get as many students as they can to write as many letters as they can. She encouraged them to research the topic more and come up with creative suggestions for better and more accurate evaluations of students, teachers, and districts. She praised them for being active and encouraged them to take the next step. She stated, “Go outside the box; get freaky. Take the next step and make a change.”
Nauert also stated that people need to understand state testing is a business. He asserted that the companies that create the tests make tens of millions of dollars and that isn’t fair. Superintendent Pempin stated that Nauert was right in that testing is a major business and that is not being exposed at the state level. He went on to say that until people start speaking up, it won’t change.
Scott asked the board if they thought starting a petition would help. Board member Chris Habermehl responded that if they want their voices heard, they need to go to the representatives and get them to lobby against state testing. Again, board member Oates encouraged the students to write letters. Superintendent Pempin told the students that if they needed addresses for any of the local representatives, state board of education, or governor’s office, they could stop by the school board office for help. He also stated that if they wanted to start a petition, they could stop by the school board office for help in creating one.