Tag Archives: test scores

The greatest enemy of knowledge, according to Daniel J. Boorstin, is not ignorance. Rather, it is the illusion of knowledge. We think we possess accurate knowledge of academic readiness when we look at grades, but those numbers rarely tell the whole story. Grades tell most of the story of a student’s ability but can be subjective, unfair, or even inflated. Adding data from state or national standardized tests adds necessary clarity and context to grades, which is where the SAT and ACT come in. Both tests mainly provide value as college entrance exams. However, by pegging certain test scores to likely outcomes in college classes, they can also help forecast how students might perform once they begin undergraduate-level work . We’ve been tracking the disappointing trends illuminated by ACT College Readiness Benchmarks for years. Might SAT College and Career Readiness Benchmarks provide a rosier outlook on our nation’s future college…

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After weeks of hearing speculation, misinformation, and consternation about the future of the SAT and ACT in admissions, I need to share my thoughts on the matter of test optional policies. This article was first published on LinkedIn but found its way back home. COVID-19 has changed the world in more ways than we can count. Certainly, the American education system will never be the same again. Not only have we all become intimately acquainted with the agony and ecstasy of online learning (can’t say teaching because not everyone is doing that) but the traditional path to college seems to be meandering through uncharted territory. A number of schools have explored test optional or test flexible admissions policies, but the current crisis (and a couple of cancelled test dates) seem to have triggered a flood of interest in removing test scores from the admissions equation. But if we accept the…

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A writer in the Wall Street Journal posited an interesting if not provocative question recently, asking “Is It Fair to Award Scholarships Based on the SAT?” Predictably, the arguments against test scores focus more on questions about student diversity and unequal distributions of wealth and resources. They do not, however, seriously address the idea of merit, which is to say a certain standard of academic accomplishment according to which merit aid is awarded. Perhaps a reticence to acknowledge the elephant in the room in this–and countless other think pieces decrying standardized testing–makes sense. After all, for all the problems with the SAT and ACT, the alternative is much worse: grades are even less reliable and more dependent on privilege than test scores. Is the idea that high school grades cannot be entirely trusted a surprise? Presumably, a student’s grades represent a quantitative expression of academic output over the majority of…

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The PSAT/NMSQT serves a number of valuable functions; not only does this test act as the first criterion for National Merit Scholarship recognition, but its scores also offer insight into future SAT results. No, the PSAT is not exactly like the official SAT or even a well-proctored practice SAT, but PSAT scores should give high school juniors a fairly accurate sense of how–in the absence of any other prep, of course–they will score on the SAT. What should we infer, then, from October’s alarmingly low PSAT scores? Anecdotal information has finally been confirmed by College Board, though not in any forum available to the general public. Fortunately, Art Sawyer and his colleagues at Compass Education Group pieced together the fragmented reports available to suss out some alarming conclusions: The number of juniors scoring 1400+ dropped 30%, from 71,000 to less than 50,000. The number of sophomores scoring 1400+ dropped 36%.…

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Everybody knows the old saying, “You reap what you sow.” Just as high school juniors (and some sophomores) take the PSAT in October, so do they receive their scores in December or maybe early January. In some ways, taking the test is the easy part. While there are some good reasons to take the PSAT, the college application is not one of them, since schools won’t use these scores for admissions purposes. This explains why some students–and their parents–might find understanding PSAT scores trickier than answering test questions. To understand the PSAT score report, you must understand both the arbitrary scale and a deceptive similarity to the SAT. PSAT SCALE Anyone who has come up through the American education system understands tests scores on the 1-100 scale or in letter form from A to F. We also grasp the complexities of 4-point GPAs in comparison to 5-point scales. But what…

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The beginning of December can be a very busy time for anyone connected with test prep or college planning.  Why? That’s when students start to get their PSAT scores back and, consequently, when parents get to see their child’s PSAT scores.  For many families, this marks the official beginning of a year or more of test-related angst and pressure. It doesn’t have to be that way. If you’re a parent who hasn’t yet learned what these scores mean and what your next steps should be, consider these tips to get you through the initial discovery of your child’s PSAT score: Other than for National Merit and related scholarship consideration, your child’s PSAT score means nothing!  In fact, a 10th grader’s PSAT score is not even used for National Merit Scholarship competition.  While the PSAT does offer a useful baseline to predict future SAT performance, it is, for all intents and purposes,…

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