(photo courtesy of Leah Klein)
Standardized tests are an important part of a student’s academic journey. The Educational Records Bureau (ERB) tests are administered to Benjamin’s lower and middle school students every year. They are not as rigorous as the SATs or the ACTs, but they help prepare students for these incredibly important tests and monitor their overall progress in math and reading. The ERBs are usually taken in the spring (late March or early April) every year. However, with COVID-19 sending the School into virtual classes during March of last year, students were unable to take the ERBs. Now that school has started to return to normalcy, the tests are set to be administered the week of April 12 in the morning during students’ advisory periods. And for only the second year now, they will be administered online.
“Previously we’ve done [ERBs] on paper,” said Math Department Chair Mrs. Cathy Hansen. “This year we are transitioning [with the] technology, so they will all be done online.”
Both students and teachers alike recognize the importance of standardized testing.
“[ERBs] are important so we can do a comparison from one year to the next to see growth,” said Hansen. “The more you practice taking standardized tests, the more you are apt to be successful with them.”
“It is important to take [the] ERBs because if you apply to other schools, they need to see how good you are in that subject matter,” said sixth grader Grace Vining. “It is also important because the teachers want to know how well you know the information.”
“I think it is important to take ERBs for both the student and the teacher,” said eighth grader Darrow Becker. “Since a lot of what we learn will not be reflected until later in our lives, taking a test that focuses on measuring skills is a great way for both the student and the teacher to understand what one knows and what one doesn’t know.”
“I think it is important to take ERBs to know what skill level we are at and what we have to work on in certain subjects,” said eighth grader Emily Simon.
Teachers have been doing their part in helping students prepare for the extra work coming with this year’s ERBs.
“Geometry students didn’t have the opportunity to take the algebra I ERBs last year, so to help them retain and remember what they learned previously, we are doing a few packets,” said Hansen.
“I think the review packets we are doing in math will be a big help on the tests,” said Simon, a student in Hansen’s geometry class.
“Mrs. Tanona, my math teacher, gave us a formula sheet and told us that we could use it on some parts of our ERBs,” said Vining. “I think I will do the best in math because I practiced some of the information last summer when I did ALEKS, and so far my teacher in math has prepared us the best.”
“In our classes, we are mostly focusing on current work and future assignments, since the ERBs’ material already is covered in the curriculum,” said Becker. “I can improve by focusing on school and working on each category of the ERBs. I think I will do best in reading comprehension and writing mechanics, as writing is one of my strong suits. I did well on the ERBs two years ago, and it taught me a lot in what I am advanced in and what I need to focus on studying.”
With all the chaos and disruption COVID has caused to academics over the past year, it is comforting to know that certain standards, like the ERBs, will continue, and it should be taken as a sign that things are going back to normal. Even with there still being kinks to work out with the tests now being online, it is still something to be optimistic about.
“I believe in the past we’ve done quite well [with ERBs],” said Hansen. “But this is all new and exciting, so I’m going with the positive aspect that our scores will be just as good [as previous years], if not better!”