Friday, November 30, 2012

Test, test. This is should not be the test.

In August 2011, we learned that 28% of high school students weren't ready for college.  In September 2012, we learned at that "[m]ore than half our nation's 2012 high school graduates who took a college entrance exam did not have the skills they'll need to succeed in college or in a career, according to recent reports from the SAT and ACT."

We also learned that 43% of the students who took the SAT had a sufficient "level of academic preparedness associated with a high likelihood of college success."

That's not good information.  Nearly 60% of college-bound kids aren't ready for college.  And we already know there is a 41% dropout rate of those students who have to take remedial courses.  And we already know we don't have enough students going into science or mathematics, never mind technology and engineering.  And we already know that one of the reasons students struggle with science and math is because they struggle with reading.

But here's something really fascinating.  As we are wringing our hands over students' lack of preparation, skills, and capabilities, over 800 schools, including some big deal liberal arts Ivy League and Ivy League-ish universities, are no longer requiring the SAT or ACT.

Say what? Well, hold on to your hats because this is an alert of one of the worst kept secrets in education: standardized tests are not helpful in measuring what students really know and what students really can do.

If we were really serious about knowing what students know and can do, we would do a lot more project-based learning and we would do a lot more with portfolios.  That whole senior recital and senior project approach in college has some merit.  There is no good reason a similar model can't be implemented in high school.  Especially if we're serious about this whole college and work place readiness thing.

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