Opinion: Capstone Tests

Capstone tests contribute added stress to future high school graduates.


Aidan Henry, Staffer

In recent years, the Cherry Creek School District has added capstone tests to their graduation requirements.

These tests were originally tested for the class of ‘19, but students were not required to pass the tests to graduate.

The class of ‘20 was the first class to be required to pass the tests, however, the COVID-19 pandemic interrupted the capstone schedule. Due to the fact that capstones must be taken at school, they were not forced to make up the tests.

Capstones consist of three separate math assessments and one writing assessment. In the past, students have only been required to pass the English capstone and two of the three math capstones. That requirement will change for the class of ‘23 as they will have to pass all three math assessments as well as English.

As a junior, I remember being unnecessarily stressed for these capstones. In addition to passing six classes per semester, I now had to worry about taking a ten-question math test and writing a page-long essay that would determine whether I graduated or not. It felt like an additional hoop that I had to jump through with little to no value to my education. 

The argument for implementing capstones is to require students to demonstrate their cumulative knowledge in both math and English. Although this may be the intention, it is not truly as effective as it is intended to be. Students only have to be correct on six of the ten math questions and they are allowed multiple retakes. This means that students would be able to get an equivalent of a D- on a capstone and be considered proficient.

Additionally, students who are unable to pass their capstones must meet certain SAT testing requirements to graduate. 

In my experience, I have had very helpful teachers, counselors, and other school officials who are dedicated to helping students pass capstones. I realize that these tests are not designed to fail students, but they are and will continue to be unnecessary for the learning experience. Measuring a student’s understanding with a grade system has been a tried-and-true method for the public school system for decades. If a student isn’t at least somewhat proficient in critical subjects, their grade will reflect that. Failing a capstone is something that I personally went through, and the stress and anxiety attached to it was frustrating.