Here's more evidence that the SAT's are good for...oh, I don't know...I'll admit they measure something, but I seriously doubt it is "aptitude." I'm sure there are lots and lots of examples of persons who performed less-than-"stellarly" on the SATs and yet achieved success in their fields and, perhaps more importantly, developed their intellects and became truly educated, thoughtful, critical thinkers. If Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor can score mediocre-at-best on her SATs and then graduate Princeton with highest academic honors and go on to reach the upper echelons of her chosen career (law)...well, it's just more proof to me that we need to dial down the reliance on these standardized tests as some sort of "predictor."
This column by Walter Kirn in the NY Times is really good -- I'm also inspired to read his book, Lost in the Meritocracy: The Undereducation of an Overachiever. I agree with Mr. Kirn that too often our education system is focused on "results," and too many students figure out early on how to work the system. Not in a consciously manipulative sort of way, but as students we fool ourselves, too, into thinking we are learning more than we truly are. Too often what we are "learning" is the right thing to say to teachers/professors, the right things to write, the right questions to ask, the right way to take multiple-choice tests, and the right classes to take to make our way through the HS and college process and come out as close to the top as possible.
Am I speaking from experience? You bet. I did a lot of that in HS/college. But I also had a few great professors who put the brakes on the overachiever express, and I think I recovered. But enough about me! My point with this post is to focus on our over-reliance on standardized tests like the SAT, and their dubious ability to measure true learning or predict "aptitude."
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