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Standardized Tests Matter Now More Than Ever

As a test preparation professional, I am used to reading articles attacking the merits of standardized tests. While I will be the first to admit that the SAT and ACT tests have their flaws, they do play an integral role in comparing the aptitude and longitudinal knowledge of students applying to college.  Achieving straight A’s is a commendable accomplishment, but it doesn’t always mean that a student has mastered or even retained critical concepts and ideas needed to succeed at the collegiate level.

When a “straight A” student scores poorly on an ACT or SAT, he or she is often labeled as a “bad test-taker.” However, the real discrepancy comes from the inherent grade inflation going on in America’s schools. Many students earning top grades are simply not retaining the knowledge and skills they learn each year. The “summer slide” has been well documented, and easy access to online summaries and discussions continues to give students an easy way out of reading and understanding their assigned texts.

The importance of standardized tests was recently laid out in the the March 31st, 2016 Wall Street Journal article “ Here’s Why Tests Matter.” The author, James Pierson, discusses the importance of standardized testing in a system plagued by grade inflation. He goes so far as to say “ The SAT is especially important. With grade inflation, report cards are basically meaningless.“

I don’t want to devalue the effort and dedication good grades entail; however, all A’s are not created equal, and we need to start addressing why supposedly top students cannot score commensurately with their report cards. If we stop labeling students as ‘bad test-takers,” then maybe we can begin to address the blatant lack of longitudinal learning going on in our schools.