Keep Testing Standard

For nearly 100 years, Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) and American College Testing (ACT) has been the foundation of testing students in their ability to apply the knowledge taught to them in high school as a basis for college admission. In recent years the issue of eliminating these tests in favor of an open admissions policy where admission to college would not be based off ACT/SAT scores at all, has become a heated debate. The process of standardized testing has been around for a long period of time because it has given admission officers good insight into the success of future enrollees and therefore is a critical part of the decision-making process for admission to the University of Tennessee.

Many high school students often wonder as to the importance of standardized testing, or if the tests are even necessary? In short, yes. A majority of private and public colleges ranging from two-year to four-year universities, use the scores obtained from standardized tests such as the ACT and SAT for determination of admission. The scores are also used as a basis of scholarship merits. Without the use of standardized tests how will a college be able to determine the success of a prospective student? Major universities have decided to use the scores and other factors such as high school GPA, extracurricular activities, awards, other talents, and more. Despite the use of all these outside factors, the main emphasis is on the base ACT/SAT score. Universities have realized just how valuable an asset these test scores are in the selection process and continues to use them as part of their selection process.

A study conducted at one of the largest university systems in the United States, State University of New York (SUNY), Peter D. Salins, previous Provost of SUNY, looked “… at changes in admissions profiles and 6 year graduation rates of the entering classes of 1997 and 2001 at SUNY’s 16 baccalaureate institutions, a period during which some campuses became more selective and others did not…” his findings show that the success of students is directly related the ACT/SAT scoring. With an increase in rates of six-year graduation, in just over a four-year period, the results were dramatic. Increases from 10 to 95 percent were found in the schools requiring SAT scores. The campuses that chose to remain with the open policy for admissions actually saw a decline in their respective graduation rates. He goes on to state “In each case, the campus that raised its SAT bar saw a substantial gain in graduation rates – in only four years!” Proving that not only are ACT/SAT scores important at indicating student success, but requiring higher scores actually showed an increase in graduation.

Measuring the ability of a prospective student in basic areas of academics, required for success during his or her college career, is just as important as a business’ determination of selecting the right person prior to job employment though review of the individual’s resume. Students have been working on their resumes throughout the entire high school career, building the necessary skills and experience that will be used by colleges for admission purposes. Without the required skills or previous experience, which standardized has been shown to indicate; the college would be taking a risk in accepting an individual that has poor academic history or even an unknown academic standing. This is simply a risk that both the student and college should avoid.

According to College Board, the company that operates the SAT, the test “…provides a trusted, globally recognized indicator of your academic readiness for college…” which is extremely important to admission officers and college boards who want students to be successful during their enrollment. “In a way, the SAT is the bridge between the hard work you’ve already done and the college that is the best fit…“and for good reason. A student’s score “…provides the opportunity for you to connect to scholarship opportunities…” an important thing to help alleviate the cost of attending a college.

Performing well on the test not only helps financially, but also can help a student to “place out of certain college courses and learn more about your academic strengths” (College Board), which will mean less time in school and faster job placement. In today’s world “…most good jobs require more than a high school diploma. Businesses want to hire people who know how to think and solve problems” (The ACT). Thinking and problem solving can only be shown through testing of knowledge, which is why using ACT/SAT scores are a good indicator of these abilities.

Not only does testing give colleges a good insight into the academic performance of a student, it can measure other areas that will become important to a student’s success in college. While not openly tested as multiple choice questions: study habits, self application, retention skills, problem solving, are a few of the indicators that are determinable in the ACT/SAT testing process. The listing of skills continues on with more that are necessary to establish success in higher education.  Eisla Sebastian, a contributing writer for Life123, writes that testing shows “how well a student can handle the stress associated with taking a standardized test, how much knowledge was gathered during high school and how skilled the student is at applying this knowledge…” a major component to a student being successful at college.

Without any indicator to show students exactly where their strengths and weaknesses are would end in poor performance, difficulty in studying, or eventual drop-out for the student. Colleges want successful students and students themselves, desire to be successful. Different areas tested by the ACT/SAT such as: math, science, reading, and writing, allow both the student and college to determine if the student will be successful in his or her selected college major. For students that wish to pursue a science or math degree, performing well in these areas of the test will give the college a strong indication that the individual is ready for the intensity of those fields on the college level.

Universities should continue to require test scores as part of their general admissions. With the current implemented system of a super scoring method of combining test scores into a new composite score which combine the student’s SAT/ACT scores and uses the higher of the two submissions. The use of student’s high school GPA, difficulty of coursework, and the super score method are all great factors to determine a student’s success at college. As studies have shown, continual use of test scores will only contribute to a successful student population at a university.


References:

Salins, Peter D. “Does the SAT Predict College Success?” Minding the Campus. Manhattan Institute, 15 Oct.  2008. Web. 01 Mar 2014. http://www.mindingthecampus.com/originals/2008/10/by_peter_salins_one_of.html

Sebastian, Eisla. “What is the Importance of the SATs?” Life123. IAC Company, n.d. Web. 01 Mar 2014. http://www.life123.com/parenting/education/test-prep/how-important-is-the-sat-test.shtml

“Why Go to College?” The ACT®. ACT Inc, 2014. Web 28 Feb 2014. http://www.actstudent.org/college/

“Why Take the SAT.” SAT®. The College Board, 2014. Web. 28 Feb 2014. http://sat.collegeboard.org/about-tests/sat/why-take-the-test

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