Is it time to sack standardized testing?

Standardized tests have the right idea but go about measuring college readiness the wrong way.

Luis Ruuska

The National Association for College Admission Counseling published a study earlier this month revealing surprising statistics about the correlation between standardized tests like the ACT and SAT and college success.

In a study of students at 33 public and private colleges and universities that make standardized test submission optional, there were no significant differences in either cumulative GPA or graduation rates between students who submitted test scores and those who didn’t.

The study also found that students with higher GPAs in high school performed better in college than their peers with low high school GPAs, regardless of their standardized test scores.

Colleges and universities commonly pass over non-submitters for merit-based financial award consideration, even though they often are more academically successful in college than their peers who submitted test scores, the study suggests.

This isn’t the first time education researchers have raised concerns about standardized tests’ accuracy in predicting college readiness.

Many have alleged that these tests and schools’ test preparation focus more on regurgitation and speed than deep processing and long-term knowledge retention.

But with the test preparation industry raking in approximately $2 billion a year for honing students’ ability to cram instead of learn, it’s unlikely that these tests will go away or that colleges will lose their favor for them.

Besides, it would be a mistake to completely eliminate standardized tests, because they have some value. But we have a responsibility to change what these tests measure and how schools prepare students for them.

When our education system takes on this task, we will not only have a more diverse national student body, but we will have one that is more academically prepared, because students will have learned for the sake of knowledge, not for a score.