EDITORIAL: Can students best be measured on intellect or character?

In this photo taken Feb. 12, 2015, sixth grade teacher Carrie Young guides her students through an exercise on their laptops as practice for the the Common Core State Standards Test in her classroom at Morgan Elementary School South in Stockport, Ohio. On Tuesday, Ohio becomes the first state to administer one of two tests in English language arts and math based on the Common Core standards developed by two separate groups of states. By the end of the year, about 12 million children in 28 states and the District of Columbia will take exams that are expected to be harder than traditional spring standardized state tests they replace. In some states, they'll require hours of additional testing time students will have to do more than just fill in the bubble. The goal is to test students on critical thinking skills, requiring them to describe their reasoning and solve problems. (AP Photo/Ty Wright)

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In this photo taken Feb. 12, 2015, sixth grade teacher Carrie Young guides her students through an exercise on their laptops as practice for the the Common Core State Standards Test in her classroom at Morgan Elementary School South in Stockport, Ohio. On Tuesday, Ohio becomes the first state to administer one of two tests in English language arts and math based on the Common Core standards developed by two separate groups of states. By the end of the year, about 12 million children in 28 states and the District of Columbia will take exams that are expected to be harder than traditional spring standardized state tests they replace. In some states, they'll require hours of additional testing time students will have to do more than just fill in the bubble. The goal is to test students on critical thinking skills, requiring them to describe their reasoning and solve problems. (AP Photo/Ty Wright)

Most people can agree that the concepts of modern education are flawed at best. The foundation of teaching has been formed by strong roots, which is why it has stood the test of time, but maybe we should examine the grounds students are judged on.

In schools today, teenagers are cross-examined for their potential through various tests and assignments designed to measure their IQ. After being analyzed from their scores, their fate and future is, essentially, predetermined.

Students in lower-level classes are automatically cast-off as poor students. On the contrary, higher level students are praised and rewarded for their “good effort”. This very scale on which teens are graded probably contributes to their work ethic and motivation. The more they’re ignored, the worse they become.

What if these students are, in fact, intelligent, but not in the way their teachers may think? Having a low IQ shouldn’t harm your chances at success, simply because it causes others to have a lack of belief in you. Intellect may very well be what can get someone to the top academically, but it certainly doesn’t mean as much as having a good character.

Character is formed through various aspects: environment, family, and culture included. I’d like to think, at least, each human being is born as a blank slate. They hold no values and beliefs. It’s mostly up to their parents to instill within their children what they think are the traits of a good person. This varies, obviously, which makes the world as diverse as it is today.

But these traits, these key character values, don’t you think they’re just as important, if not more important, as intelligence? Intelligence shouldn’t be cast off, but rather considered just as much as other aspect of one’s personality.

To reiterate the main question I’m attempting to answer: Can students best be measured on what they know or who they are?

Both are important. In my opinion, however, character quality should be considered much more highly than IQ. What if someone in a 4.0 class is truly trying their best and staying determined? That attitude shouldn’t be ignored, rather, appreciated.

Those with a more positive attitude in life are more likely to get farther. People who simply don’t care about things probably won’t get as much accomplished. If someone holds good intentions and works hard at what they believe in, they’ll probably lead a more positive life, even if their best doesn’t match up to other people’s best.

When analyzing the way students should be treated, it’s important to get a student’s perspective on the issue. Mira Starosta, a junior, believes that kindness is of greater importance than intellect.

“You should be aware of intelligence, but physical character, who you are, is more important.” she noted. “I know people who aren’t as intelligent, but they’re really good human beings. They shouldn’t be placed lower on the scale because of their intelligence.”

Looking at it from a different lens, educators are the ones actually implementing these teaching styles and qualities.

“A combination of the two is a great way to help students reach their fullest potentials.“ commented Mrs. Levandowski, an English teacher here at North Penn. “By addressing both academic and character skills in our high school, we will help prepare our students for the world they will enter once they walk across that graduation stage at the end of their secondary school careers. “

As of now, students are still being tested off of intellect only. Select schools have chosen to view other traits, such as character, when testing their students. As of other schools, it would take a lot to drastically change the foundation of teaching.

There’s still a long way to go, but it’s possible that one day, students could be tested on who they are and not how much they know. As of now, it’s back to standardized tests and vocab quizzes. Unfortunately.