On Tuesday Oct. 4, the Mabel Brown Room hosted a screening of the documentary, “Tested,” directed and co-written by Curtis Chin, a cofounder of the Asian American Writer Workshop which discussed the hard work middle schoolers put in to go to the best possible high school in New York.
The documentary-based film focused on the New York education system and middle school student’s quest to be accepted into one of the top three high schools in New York City by taking the Specialized High School Admissions Test (SHSAT).
Senior at Keene State College and attendee of the screening Robert Lanfranchi, having grown up in Brooklyn, N.Y., is all too familiar with the New York school system. Lanfranchi said, “I actually grew up in the same neighborhood as one student from the film, Andre, in Dyker Heights.”
Chin’s piece displayed the hard work and hours of practice New York middle schoolers put in to get accepted into the best high schools for their future.
As sophomore at KSC and secondary education major Tyler Chaisson said, the way the student’s worked so hard reminded him more of high school seniors than middle schoolers, and inspired him to work harder in his own studies.
Chaisson was not the only one to point out similarities between the students in the film and high school students.
Curtis Chin said in New York students in middle school are eligible to attend a high school fair that is similar to a college fair where they visit tables with information about all different high schools within the city.
Dr. Darrell Hucks of the Keene State education department, who additionally taught within the New York education system, said the film highlighted the access issue in the school system.
He also said the film highlighted how some students do not receive the same means of education in order to be rightfully prepared for a test such as the SHSAT.
The SHSAT is a test similar to the SAT that middle school students have the option of taking to receive acceptance into one of the top three high schools in New York City.
Lanfranchi said he could recall a few of his friends taking the SHSAT and were more stressed about taking that test than when the SAT’s came around in high school.
Whereas Chaisson, a student who grew up in New Hampshire, said, “I can’t even imagine studying for three months while being in middle school to take a test that would essentially dictate my future success.”
According to Chin’s film of the 27,000 students who take the SHSAT, about 5,000 pass and the other 23,000 fail.
Hucks said that he finds the importance of the test (SHSAT) interesting since some students excel in test taking and others may find it more challenging.
Chaisson, an education student at Keene, said, “I also want to stress the importance that standardized tests aren’t always an indicator of intelligence. I saw that many students in the film were disheartened by their scores, feeling like failures,but that isn’t necessarily their fault.”
Lanfranchi said he remembers friends of his being discouraged after not getting accepted into any of the top schools, but that he was very impressed by the work ethic they had seemed to have acquired from preparing for the SHSAT, and it reflected in later work in high school.
Hucks said he likes to challenge his students because teaching is not easy, but the difficulty is that every other career students are studying for relies on their teachers giving them the means to make their futures happen by making sure they work hard similar to the students in Chin’s film.
Fletcher Rice can be contacted at email@example.com