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8th Grade Standardized Test

By: Michele Hernandez

In October, the College Board launched a new standardized test for eighth graders. “ReadiStep” is a shorter and easier version of the PSAT designed to measure students’ readiness for rigorous high school courses and later, college. You can think of it as “pre-pre-pre SAT” as the College Board does – the test results will be seen only by teachers, parents, students and the current school. This is nothing revolutionary – the ACT has offered “Explore,” pretty much a pre pre ACT, since the early 1990’s – just like score choice, it seems the College Board is trying to keep up with and compete with the ACT.

I am against these “pre tests” just as I’m against the SAT in general – I don’t think personally it’s a very good measure of anything except doing basic level math quickly, reading dull passages quickly and showing that you know basic grammar and usage. Any test that puts a premium on speed rather than depth to me is not a great test. I know plenty of students who read very well, but not super fast – they do not fare well on the SAT – is that fair?  And all my advanced math students who go on to top colleges are several years beyond SAT math by the time they take it – so basically, they are being asked to do “basic” math they might have done 2-3 years prior. Plus, the test is too long – four hours is longer than most college final exams—that’s a long time to sit still and focus on a boring test.

I don’t see why a pre test is necessary. Younger students have always been able to take the SAT early through Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth to qualify for gifted and talented programs. Plenty of 7th and 8th graders take the SAT and these scores, even before score choice, never show up to colleges – only scores from 9th grade onwards. In short, why create a pretest and then anxiety for the years preceding the SAT? That will only make parents run out to get tutors for their students years ahead of time, and that’s even more a waste of time. IN my experience, the best SAT prep is done in the months before the SAT, not years before (of course reading and vocab should be done early, but you don’t need a pretest to tell you that). Stop the madness – keep subject tests to help colleges relative grades in different high schools and keep AP tests, but scrap the SAT already. Colleges should be able to use subject tests, AP exams and then really READ the students’ applications, teacher recs and other info to make an informed decision without over-relying on test scores.

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