May Day, a time to march in support of worker’s rights across the globe. It makes me wonder about the impact of a unified effort. Standardized testing has been a topic of educational blogs I follow. The SAT was long theorized to be replaced by a far more sophisticated assessment tool yet it is still the necessary currency for those wishing to submit an application to a competitive enrollment collegiate institution. What if, in the spirit of May Day the Class of 2013 opted out? If enough students did not participate in the SAT, college admission officers would be forced to make acceptance decisions based on other attributes. The students would have the power to present themselves more fully. Numerical rankings that were conveniently performed based on SAT scores would no longer be available. The data set that is critical to the college admission formula would be incomplete. How would a college respond? Would a student be able to submit a portfolio that better represented not only how much knowledge they had accumulated but more importantly, how they were using this knowledge? Could a student direct a college to their progress on Khan Academy, showing not only mastery of a topic but dedication to self-paced learning? Would linking to a blog or an extended project portfolio be worthy? How about highlighting images on Pinterest where the student’s artwork was organized and further linked to exhibitions? Could you submit your e-book, video that went viral, audio file about the nonprofit that you founded? How about the sport that you had mastered, the year living abroad, work with a master musician, or the years served as an advocate for youth in local government? Could you present your passion and explain how college was going to enhance your journey to serve others?
A college admissions officer explained that applicants at his college were ranked on a 1-10 scale. A rating of ‘1’ was representative of a student who was a National Merit finalist, near perfect SATs, received teacher recommendations that rated the student as exceptional. Sixty percent of these students were denied entry to the college where the admission director was employed. The SAT did not make a difference. These individuals who excelled as test takers were simply lumped into the highest tier which gave them the greatest probability of acceptance for any of the groups on the one to ten scale. Yet their chances were less than fifty percent. The decision on admission was made based on the student’s other skills and achievements. In may ways the SAT gained them entry to a waiting room with no guarantee of an appointment. Here’s hoping the waiting room has unlocked wifi and comfortable seats.
I wonder which incoming class of High School Juniors or Seniors will be the first to take back the college admission process and ask for a more complete representation of their unique skills and passions? When will standardized tests with bubble sheets be regarded as a throw back, similar to tossing the kids in the back of a station wagon with no seat belts, no airbags, while the driver smoked, the right front wheel wobbled out of alignment, the gas tank was half-empty, and everyone headed towards Disneyland at 70 mph?
Here’s to you Class of 2013…