Social-Emotional Learning vs Standardized Tests


Andrew Edwards, Newspaper Editor

The opinions, viewpoints, and beliefs expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent the opinions, viewpoints, or beliefs of the Titan Times newspaper, Tuscarora High School or Frederick County Public Schools.


SEL, or social-emotional learning, has been implemented into the school system as a way for students to check-in and ensure/talk about what is going on in their life, in and out of school. Although social-emotional learning is an excellent opportunity for students’ mental health, what are the negatives of this implementation? The board for Maryland public schools has also added standardized tests to the mix for those students who couldn’t take them last year because of the pandemic. Wouldn’t more standardized tests add stress and fall under the category of social-emotional learning? 

The addition of a period during the school day for social-emotional learning, flex, or a tutoring period, has been taken away once a week. At Tuscarora high school, students are unable to be pulled for tutoring every Wednesday. What if a student struggles in a class and cannot receive the necessary time to understand the material? In addition, the week of October 4th through the 8th, underclassmen were required to take various standardized tests during the school day. Therefore, students were being taken out of their current classes to test the information they learned last year. The question of whether some students were struggling in their classes and needed extra help comes up again. Not only would a student be struggling in their classes, but now they are even further behind because they had to miss valuable class time for more standardized tests. 

Wouldn’t more standardized tests add to the stress level of students? Wouldn’t an increase in stress jeopardize a student’s social-emotional learning? The irony of this situation is prevalent. Social-emotional learning is a great idea, but why are students being required to make up last year’s standardized tests, which in reality, only adds to the overall stress of a student. 

Although standardized tests are painful and cause a ton of stress, they are needed to assess whether or not the overall student body is grasping the material and whether or not the teacher is correctly displaying the information. However, students should not have to attempt to remember class information that they learned last year by taking another test. If the Maryland public school system believes that social-emotional learning is a valuable asset in students’ overall well-being, then the idea of standardized tests needs to be revisited to match it up with the positives of an SEL day.