In the high-achieving environment that Palo Alto High School (Paly) is so well-known for, it can often be hard to resist the competitive atmosphere that comes along with this success. The Paly administration has made a clear effort in attempting to alleviate this stressful setting by making the decision to stop releasing decile rankings to universities. However, the public release of the American Mathematics Competitions (AMC) results has been overlooked and is yet another source of stress that has not been dealt with yet.
Every student who takes the AMC — which is required for students in the highest math lane — has his or her score posted in both the Math Resource Center (MRC) and online. Some teachers even take the liberty of posting the link on Schoology, giving students easy access to compare their achievements with others’.
These comparisons provide unnecessary stress and embarrassment to lower-scoring students. Competition can sometimes lead to an environment in which people thrive under the pressure, but as witnessed at Paly, it has only led to excessive anxiety. On a subconscious level, we constantly compare ourselves to others, whether we admit it or not. We see if we are better looking than the other person fighting for our crush’s attention, a better shooter than the person next in line during tryouts or more intelligent than the person sitting across from our desk.
These comparisons, especially in academics, are often amplified amongst students in these high lanes whom are forced to take the AMC.
A peer’s success should be applauded. However, this can be done in the way most other honors are given: public acknowledgment for the very top achieving students without completely broadcasting every other student’s personal information.
Scores on homework, tests or other academic assessments ought to be shared at a person’s own discretion.
By forcing students to take the AMC and to then proceeding to publicize all scores without any option otherwise is a complete breach of privacy.
The administration may either force students to take the test and release scores privately or make it optional with public results.
By enforcing both, every high-laned student’s intelligence is flaunted for better or for worse.
For the sake of privacy alone, these results should remain confidential.
Add in the advantage of minimizing stress and the competitive ambience that Paly has become known for, and it is clear that this simple matter ought to be changed.