September 10, 2021

Don Coberly, Geoffrey Thomas, Teresa Fabricius, Wil Overgaard: It is misleading to use a single metric to measure or predict student success

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A quartet of retired Idaho superintendents argue against the use of a single metric, like the SAT or ACT, to measure the success of students, teachers, or schools.

Are college entrance exam scores the best way to predict a student’s potential for success in college? There is a growing body of evidence that indicates they are not. In his September 16, 2020 article in The Atlantic, author Jeffrey Selingo wrote that “most educators agree that the architects of the SAT never intended it to be the high-stakes assessment it has become.”

According to the US News & World Report (May 14, 2021) more than 1,400 colleges and universities will not require students to submit a college entrance exam when applying for fall 2022 admission. The entire University of California system will not require students to submit SAT or ACT scores, largely because the exams were determined, in a 2019 lawsuit, to be biased against minority and low income students.

Even college admissions counselors sense the changing environment. In their 2019 State of College Admission report, the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) noted that the college admission test was not one of the top three factors that carry “considerable importance” in making college admission decisions. The top three factors they noted were a student’s grades, their grades in college preparatory courses, and the strength of the curriculum in their schools.

The S.A.T. purports to measure a student’s readiness for college by assessing them in Evidenced Based Reading and Writing and Mathematics. The exam is given in Idaho every year on one day over three hours. The College Board says that students who meet their benchmark score have a 75% chance of earning a C or better in the first semester of their freshman year. Some students meet the benchmark score in either Math or English Reading and Writing. A smaller number earn the benchmark in both areas.

Are these the best criteria to predict post-high school student success? We think not. A few years back, a large Idaho district conducted an analysis of a class of students who had graduated from college within the six-year period typically used by the National Council of Educational Statistics in judging college success. The district found that over a quarter (25%) of these college graduates had not met the SAT benchmarks established by the College Board. Thank goodness they persisted despite their scores.

They go on to suggest some alternative, better, measures. Read the whole article here.

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