Thirty-Six: The Score of Success

The picture represents an ACT score weighing down the other attributes of a student.

The picture represents an ACT score weighing down the other attributes of a student.

Taylen Kowalski, Hour 1

As you grasp your number two pencil, sweat begins to form in the palm of your hand. This test is the most important test of your life, or so you’ve been told. The ACT test is a standardized test taken by students in their junior year of high school. It consists of questions from each core subject, and it is an all-day event. Many colleges use this score as a decision factor in admission, however, is it really a credible source? Students should not be required to submit an ACT score for the college admission process.

Standardized Test or Systemic Bias?

The ACT is flawed, and certain groups of people are at a disadvantage. Students who live in high-income houses can get more materials/higher quality materials for preparation. Those in a low-income environment may only get a basic level of materials. Not only does income influence a bias to a higher score, but other characteristics such as race. 

These biases are helping certain students get admitted over others. Research done by ACT concluded that “when all factors are equal, such as course work, grades and family income, Whites still outscore all other groups.” This test has such flaws that shouldn’t be seen as the students’ fault. From the very start, some students are limited in this race to success. 

Stressing Over a Scantron

Students are experiencing strong feelings of stress and low confidence from taking the ACT. Out of a survey of 41 participants, 79.5% of students felt they were unprepared for the test. Even though this test has been talked about since middle school, students are still feeling left in the dark about it. 

After interviewing a few SPASH seniors, most said that they were not proud of their ACT scores. One in particular Mya Cullen said, “I felt as though it wasn’t an accurate measure of my academic abilities. I was stressed and felt very rushed throughout the entire duration of the test.” In other parts of admission, students can take pride in who they are through resumes, essays, and coursework. Why should students submit a score that does not represent who they are? 

How Will We Measure Student Academic Success?

There are many other reports and data that can be used to consider a student for admission. Some say since ACT scores are used to measure a student’s success, wouldn’t that mess up the admissions process? The answer is no, there are other factors that can be reviewed for admission. 

Using other reports from a long period of time would more accurately sum up a student’s abilities. The Fair Test states “The nearly 400 colleges and universities that already admit substantial numbers of freshman applicants without regard to test scores have shown that class rank, high school grades, and rigor of classes taken are better tools for predicting college success than any standardized test.” With all the other qualifications that make up a student, one score won’t be the determining factor in academic performance. 

Colleges could still have an option for submission of the score, but should not force students to submit one. With a test that has flaws and can not perfectly reflect a student, it loses value to the student. Beyond a number, there is a determined student, who had one bad test day. One bad test does not mean one bad student.