Tag Archives: test scores

Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies, one of the cornerstones of any business library, introduced a concept for stretch goals that has eclipsed the work itself in terms of enduring fame. In the book, Jim Collins and Jerry Porras discussed the BHAG–Big Hairy Audacious Goal–as a a powerful way to stimulate progress: “A BHAG is clear and compelling, needing little explanation; people get it right away. Think of the NASA moon mission of the 1960s. The best BHAGs require both building for the long term AND exuding a relentless sense of urgency: What do we need to do today, with monomaniacal focus, and tomorrow, and the next day, to defy the probabilities and ultimately achieve our BHAG?” The authors focused on big, hairy, audacious goals for titans of industry and unicorn entrepreneurs, but not all moon shots need be driven by a profit motive. Anyone can set a…

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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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Earlier this week, I had the privilege to speak to a large group of families from the Pittsford and Fairport school districts. In this College Admissions Testing for the HS Classes of 2021 and 2022 Seminar, I explained what the tests are, why they matter, and what you can and should do about them during this singular moment in recent history. Attendees submitted questions ahead of time, so we made sure to address the following points: Does it make sense for me to take the SAT/ACT if I have a strong GPA and colleges are making it optional? What does test optional really mean? Will the SAT/ACT be required for the class of 2022? When should students in the class of 2021 or 2022 try to take the tests? How has COVID changed the role of testing? What is the best preparation for the PSAT? What habits should students cultivate…

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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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