Mixed Feelings On ACT Testing

One of the most frightening things about going to school is test-taking. And for good reason, as a bad test score will follow the student around for years. The smart thing is to take a course, somewhere, anywhere, so that you can study to take the test. The statistics on success show strong and convincing evidence that students who study for a test do much better than those who walk in unprepared.

A Star-Advertiser article covered the excitement, or lack of it, last week. There were a lot of questions left unanswered by the state Department of Education, which is expressing delight that 50,000 intermediate and high school students at public schools statewide would start taking a four-hour college prep test this week. Tests like the ACT can be sent to any college.

I may be all alone in worrying about those students who are not ready or excited about taking the ACT. I remember my anguish when everyone was taking the ACT or SAT exams, but only by invitation. My older brother was invited, but I wasn’t, and it caused me a lot of unnecessary worry at the time.

I wonder how many test-taking students are motivated to do well on the ACT or SAT? I’ve always wondered who decides the test should be administered to all students. After all, who decides how to administer the test to students with learning disabilities? This is a serious question, since these tests align with the DOE’s strategic plan, which calls for specific measurable targets for student achievement.

Since there is no trial run at the test-taking, how will these tests provide data on a student’s academic progress?

I’m all for designing a curriculum that prepares students in grades 8 to 11 to take an important test like this, because the scores are going to follow them around and take a toll on their aspirations. You can’t aim high in your academic life with a couple of low test scores out of high school.

I was lucky – I was drafted into the Korean War and spent some time after that in Europe.

The sober rigidity of military life motivated me to try again with my own money.

I’m hoping the “slow learners” who are forced to take the ACT don’t feel discouraged and just do their best. This testing is serious stuff, but just remember: A poor test score is not the end of the world.