Wednesday, July 20, 2011

ACT Test Not All It's Cracked Up to Be - Riding a Dead Horse?

A recent study has concluded that 2 out of 4 tests within the ACT are not accurate predictors of college success. ACT has staked its reputation as an off-the-shelf college readiness assessment and Michigan is one of the states that has bought into this hype.

According to the Washington Post:

The Stanford and University of Chicago scholars who wrote the report, recently published by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), say scores from the other two ACT subject tests, Mathematics and English, “are much more tightly correlated with college success than are Reading and Science scores. In fact, after controlling for Mathematics and English scores, Reading and Science provide essentially no predictive power regarding college outcomes.”

Of course, ACT, Inc. is disputing the conclusions.  What would you expect from one of the growing number of companies riding the billion-dollar, high-stakes assessment industry created by NCLB and reinforced by non-educators wearing the mask of "educational reformer?"

Even in Michigan, Governor Snyder has drunk this kool-aid along with at least one educational reporter: Gov. Rick Snyder: Some Michigan test scores 'startling and scary,' vows measurement-driven changes.  And now many schools, at the urging of education department leaders and state politicians, are taking on the added expense of administering the ACT Explore and Plan to students in grades 8-10 as indicators of readiness for the actual ACT test given to all 11th graders.

Don't expect the politicians, main-stream media, and boy-billionaires to abandon their high-stakes testing horse, even as it continues to become ever more apparent the horse they're riding is dead.

As an added note, I urge everyone to read Professor Yong Zhao's 5-part blog titled Ditch Testing: Lessons from the Cheating Scandal in Atlanta

1 comment:

  1. Anecdotally, I'd agree.

    My English and Math scores were in the low 90-%iles, my SR and R scores were equal to or greater than the 99th-%ile. I dropped out of multiple colleges/universities before finally finishing a B.S. with a 2.87 GPA at the most recent one (got an A.S. at an earlier school).

    I'm thinking SR and R load more heavily on fluid intelligence (linked with appropriate familial background, of course), while the E and M are more heavily loaded on crystallized intelligence. Basically, if you're good at learning the curriculum in the high school environment, you'll be good in the collegiate environment. If you're less so, you'll be less so.


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