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Do Today's ACT Scores Mean Anything About Future Success?

act scores, act

Dec. 11 test scores are online starting today. Try not to make a big deal either way.

Think of it as either a post-Christmas gift or a pre-New Years hangover: if your child took the ACT test on Dec. 11, scores are available online starting today.

I’m nervous for you (should I be?).

After viewing this round of ACT scores, you might want to check out what Allen Grove, About.com’s College Admissions guide, has to say. He’s loading up his page with reassurances that more than 800 colleges don’t care what your kids’ ACT score is.

Which really? That’s as it should be for all college admissions counselors.

I’m about seven years away from sending a child into a cold classroom with a handful of sharpened No. 2 pencils, but I already feel a kind of excitement and dread regarding the whole process. Excitement because there’s a lot at stake with these standardized test and dread because, well, there’s a lot at stake with these standardized tests.

I think these kinds of tests are one way to check out a child’s proficiency in certain subjects. And also one small (but not end-all-be-all) way to see how a students’ school is doing, too. But over all, I think standardized tests — and testing, in general — isn’t such a fabulous guide for the kind of learning potential a teenager has.

Standardized test are a great way to see whether a child has the kind of support that helps in college: money for prep classes and books, a family that made accommodations a while go to ensure the child receive the kind of information and practice he or she would need to perform well on the test.

But the ACT and SAT can’t say whether a kid can ask questions about the world and figure out a way to go about answering those questions. Standardized tests — and more and more school work — don’t demonstrate an ability to plan, execute and finish a project of inquiry on one’s own or in a group but without intense help from adults.

Grove over at About.com has a reassuring list of other areas your future college students’ admissions counselor is going to care about as well. And some links you can start picking through to see whether your Ivy League dreams for the little one could still come true. Or if, well, other arrangements should be made.

So maybe your kid bombed earlier this month in the dot-filling, timed exam — with its own tricks for doing well that don’t involve solving for x — so what? Does that mean anything, really? Does it mean everything?

Photo: braintrack.com

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