Students Helping Break Barriers

Since the creation of standardized testing, debates over their inherent unfairness have followed. Those against the use of standardized tests have cited studies like that of the Washington Post which show that students who go to a school that could afford to administer the PSAT score on average 200 points better on their SATs than students who did not go to such a school. Even the systemic barriers of race are reflected in the test as the same study found White and Asian students scoring upwards of 400 points better than their Latino or African American peers. These hundred point differences in scores can have far-reaching implications. Students who do not have the resources to score well on the ACT or SAT may lose a shot at going to college and ending their families’ cycles of poverty. The students with graduate-degree-parents, on the other hand, will have a disproportionate score boost that allows them into better colleges and perpetuates the dominance and rigidity of the upper class. But students are slowly working to change this broken system.

Vikram Ruppa-Kasani and Niranjan Ramasekaran are two juniors at Chattahoochee High School. Vikram and Niranjan are no strangers to community service. Vikram’s Eagle Scout projects and weekly volunteering gained him the recognition to earn the 21st Century Leadership Award (awarded to one student in Georgia every year.) Meanwhile, Niranjan heads his MD Junior and Beta Club as an officer where he directs and encourages students towards community service. Their idea to do something about standardized testing’s inequality came from their own experiences with taking the ACT. “ I felt that the tutoring I got was really helping me get a good score” Niranjan reflects, “but I realized not everyone has access to those same resources.” At the moment, the duo is focusing on collecting prep books that they can redistribute to inner city charities. However, they have longer term goals to help a broad range of students with economic problems: “we hope that the revenue we gain from our charity work can help us set up tutoring days throughout the year where students can get free SAT and ACT prep over the summer.”

If you would like to help their cause, donate any of your old SAT, ACT or any other prep books to the collection bin in the auditorium. Their bin will be open until May 10.


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