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Standardized tests don’t measure college readiness, so why do we take them?

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As high school students, the impending and scary future of college constantly looms – especially as students who attend a college preparatory school. At St. Paul Academy and Summit School, college counselors get questions from families even before 9th grade. A part of the college admissions process is standardized testing: ACT, SAT or both. Most students take these four hour tests at least a couple of times during their junior and senior years, after taking the pre-tests as sophomores. 

The use of these tests as data points for college admissions are argued as ways to determine a student’s college readiness. In reality, according to PBS, students who chose to submit their scores to colleges versus not submitting them yields a very minor 0.05% difference in their college GPAs, proving just how little these tests can measure college “readiness.” There are a plethora of reasons why a student gets the score they get, but none of these correlate with their intelligence or ability to succeed.

Most students take these four hour tests at least a couple of times during their junior and senior years, after taking the pre-tests as sophomores.”

A multiple choice format is too simplistic way of thinking. It encourages kids to think in a “right answer, wrong answer” way when, in reality, life doesn’t work that way. Additionally, according to Dr. Gerald W. Bracey, standardized tests only measure a small portion of what makes education meaningful; they don’t include a multitude of good qualities in a student including curiosity, creativity, resourcefulness, enthusiasm, empathy, or persistence.

Many say that standardized testing is bad, but what are some of the solutions? How else can schools measure the progress of students (prospective and current)? Look to Finland, where standardized testing has been eradicated, yet their students continue to score in the top or near the top in all subjects compared to other nations (in contrast to the US, which has dropped to the 12th best), according to Stanford University researcher Linda Darling-Hammond. In fact, according to The Washington Post, Finnish schools assign less homework, engage children in more creative play, focus on equity between schools rather than competition, and ensure all education is public and free. These are the students who are succeeding the most and thriving.

Unfortunately, educational reform is not on the minds of many legislators. That means it is up to the community to get the law changed. Call local legislators and urge them to help promote educational reform – starting with standardized testing. If we’re able to release a new iPhone every few months, we should be able to update a decades old education practice.

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About the Writer
Jenny Sogin, The Rubicon Feature Editor
Jenny Sogin is a junior and the co-Feature editor of The Rubicon. Sogin plays soccer and downhill ski races for St. Paul Academy and Summit School. When she’s not playing a sport after school, Sogin can be found doing her favorite way to unwind: eating bagels and watching Netflix. Sogin also enjoys hanging out with...
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