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Reflections on teaching, literacy, coaching, and practice.

03.30.13Standardized Tests: Necessary but not Sufficient…but also Highly Correlated to College Success

going to collegeOne thing you’ll hear about standardized tests is that they don’t really measure the things students need to do to succeed in college. That may be true. As a school administrator I always wanted to message to staff and students and others that high scores were necessary but not sufficient: necessary in that almost no one who is prepared for college cannot pass them; not sufficient in that of course our students must reach higher and do more with more demanding content. BUT, but, but…. the data is also pretty clear that standardized tests correlate well to success in college. From a data point of view they are a strong predictor of whether students will succeed in college. Doesn’t mean the tests shouldn’t be better, more rigorous, include more writing; it doesn’t mean there’s not a lot to the story of the data–complexity and noise and insight all mixed up in a stew. But they matter, whether you want them to or not, because they tell us things that can make sure we keep our promises to our students.

 

I offer that observation on a very exciting week, when Uncommon High School announced that 100% of its seniors have been accepted to college. I wish I could say that they will all graduate. I know I can say that we are serious about boosting their graduation rate so it looks like the rates of students born to privilege. But I also know that the data that suggests that they will thrive–their Regents scores, their SAT scores, their AP scores as well as their grades and essays and personal grit and integrity–is real. I am optimistic for them. And today I wish them godspeed.

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4 Responses to “Standardized Tests: Necessary but not Sufficient…but also Highly Correlated to College Success”

  1. Guest
    March 30, 2013 at 6:31 pm

    I’m wondering what data you’re referring to when you say, “From a data point of view they are the best predictor there is of whether students will succeed in college.” I recently read Paul Tough’s How Children Succeed where he refers to a few different studies that seem to suggest GPA and high school grades are much more highly correlated with college success/completion than standardized test scores including SAT and ACT. He argues this is because standardized tests do not reflect the executive functioning skills that students must have to succeed while grades include not only intellectual understanding and academic skills but other important traits such as time management, self control, grit, etc.
    I’m not trying to imply I don’t want my students to do well on their standardized tests but I do worry that the education system is putting nearly all emphasis on these scores at the expense of other crucial skills and traits. Thought?

  2. Belle
    March 30, 2013 at 6:31 pm

    I’m wondering what data you’re referring to when you say, “From a data point of view they are the best predictor there is of whether students will succeed in college.” I recently read Paul Tough’s How Children Succeed where he refers to a few different studies that seem to suggest GPA and high school grades are much more highly correlated with college success/completion than standardized test scores including SAT and ACT. He argues this is because standardized tests do not reflect the executive functioning skills that students must have to succeed while grades include not only intellectual understanding and academic skills but other important traits such as time management, self control, grit, etc.
    I’m not trying to imply I don’t want my students to do well on their standardized tests but I do worry that the education system is putting nearly all emphasis on these scores at the expense of other crucial skills and traits. Thoughts?

  3. Guest
    March 30, 2013 at 8:01 pm

    When the analysis is extended beyond fres
    hman year to cumulative four-year
    GPA and to four-year college graduation,
    high school GPA is the best individual
    predictor followed by scores on the SAT II Writing exam (Geiser and Santelices, 2007)

  4. guest
    March 30, 2013 at 11:09 pm

    In the 2008 book, Crossing the Finish Line: Completing College at America’s Public Universities, Bowen, McPherson and Chingos found that the most accurate predictor of whether a student would successfully complete college was not his or her score on the SAT or the ACT. A much more reliable predictor was high school GPA regardless of the quality of the high school attended. “In our view, high school grades reveal much more than mastery of content. They reveal qualities of motivation and perseverance – as well as the presence of good study habits and time management skills – that tell us a great deal about the chances that a student will complete a college program.”

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