What do test scores show?
Standardized tests have been used for the college admission process and general student evaluation for years, but are these tests effective at gauging students in their entirety?
The answer is unclear due to the number of tests and the different groups that use them, but it is clear that there are flaws and benefits to all types of tests.
Some in the college admissions world believe testing is a useful tool for evaluating applicants.
“I think we have enough evidence through measurement experts, through individuals who have tested [standardized] tests to let us know that we can gain valuable information about students’ learning by using exams well,” Scott Friedhoff, Vice President for Enrollment and College Relations at the College of Wooster, said.
Test scores give insight to what a student has learned, Friedhoff said.
Extracurricular activities, leadership roles and volunteering are three possible inclusions on a student’s profile when applying to college.
Other factors not evaluated by tests include character and personality traits.
Four traits in students that tests do not currently evaluate include grit, personality, creativity and leadership skills, noted Tyler Egli, WHS guidance counselor for grades 10 through 12.
Egli elaborated on grit, which is similar to determination or resolve, by saying, ”[Grit] has received great attention the past couple years as post-secondary education continues to battle low retention rates. Too many students start the journey for college and never finish.”
Test scores can not always be indicative of student success, and, therefore, can be only part of the holistic assessment of students in most situations like college applications.
Many higher education institutions have recently begun attempts to lessen the importance of standardized test scores, such as ACT and SAT scores, relative to the rest of a student’s application.
Sarah Ozar, Senior Assistant Director of Admissions at the College of Wooster, commented on the application of test scores.
“Standardized tests are just one aspect of a student’s application at The College of Wooster. While we consider these scores, we do not place a heavy emphasis on them,” Ozar said.
Ozar later listed students’ willingness to learn, emotional intelligence and maturity, participation in the classroom and overall attitude toward learning as qualities of a student that tests do not evaluate.
Friedhoff also pointed out another flaw with standardized testing: its relation to socioeconomic status.
Students who are from families with higher incomes or socioeconomic status tend to score better on standardized tests, which can be taken into account when looking at standardized test scores, Friedhoff said.