Partner tests kill motivation

Allison Rafert, Opinion Editor

Wanting to spend more than the allotted sixty seconds on a playground swing or hoarding a castle of wooden blocks from our kindergarten classmates, we all have been gently reprimanded with the rhyme “sharing is caring.” From a young age, we are taught that the compassionate choice is to always abandon our greedy tendencies and share our possessions.
However, this compassionate action may not be ideal in the school environment—especially concerning partner tests.
In the case of partner tests, where two randomly assigned students work together to complete an exam and receive the same grade, the effort put in by each student generally follows the same pattern: one student prepares for the test while the other relies entirely on the partner’s knowledge to succeed. Certainly, this system does not provide the teacher with an accurate measure of student success and comprehension of the material, as most tests should determine.
In fact, more harm comes from partner tests than simply an inaccurate measurement—partner tests kill student motivation on both sides of the spectrum. When seeing that other students can receive identical scores without any effort, the studious partner views his efforts as futile. If substantially less work can result in the same grade, what is the point in studying, anyway?
A similar result occurs for the less studious partners: when their limited amount of effort results in success, it only encourages students to continue on the trend of reliance.
In the long run, both students are harmed through a loss of motivation which eventually leads to lower scores on an independent exam.
It’s true that partner tests do encourage collaboration, a necessary skill in work environments. However, those skills can be promoted in other aspects of school, like classwork or group presentations, instead of exams that count for both a grade and measurement of success.
In fact, forcing a student to receive accurate outcomes for his or her work prepares him or her for life outside of high school to an even greater extent. More than having to corroborate with others, adults are expected to be responsible for their choices and deal with the consequences themselves.
An averseness toward partner tests and sharing one’s rightfully gained knowledge is not greedy or merciless—it simply shows a value for motivation, independence, and accurate results for one’s work.