Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Another nail in standardized tests

A recent study indicates that standardized tests such as the SAT are not a better predictor of college success than are a student's high school grades.   Lead researcher on the study was the admissions director of Bates College, one of the early terminators of using SAT scores for admission.  So it could be argued that these results were self-serving.  Be that as it may, the results do still indicate that there is little to no difference in the success rates of college students with good high school grades and no SAT scores than are the success rates of students with good SAT scores and good grade.
Even more interesting is the result that students with moderate high school grades and good SAT scores are not as successful as students with good high school grades.  Hence the study seems to rightly conclude that high school grades are the better predictor.
Yet in spite of multiple studies that have shown test scores to be bad predictors of success post high school and/or post college, our society keeps moving more and more in the direction of using standardized tests to measure success.
One of the most recent efforts in this regard are the Common Core State Standards, a set of curriculum standards that is supposed to improve post-secondary outcomes for high school students.  What is very strange about these standards is that computer science skills are virtually absent from the standards, yet employers tell us that these are the very skills they need from future workers.  Yes there are some computer science standards scattered about the Common Core but there is no consistent sequence of skills in it own area.  Instead there are math skills that will be needed by only a select few.
The American infatuation with numbers seems to come from our belief if we can measure it and put a number to something, we have some how learned to control that something.  Sort of like, a child or adult can't be sick unless there is an elevated temperature./

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