The Path to Enlightenment

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Welcome%20NACAC%20banner.JPGKennedy's "best and brightest" got us into Vietnam; Bush's B & B can't get us out of Iraq. Paulson played tackle at Dartmouth and we're handing him $700 billion, while Obama's Harvard credentials just get him pilloried as an elitist. (Want to understand the financial meltdown? Think of derivatives as blogs that only post what other blogs are saying, and eventually they just start making stuff up and become worthless. Remember: you read it here.) Point is, the fundamentals of our educational system are sound. The American teacher, the American student, we honor their creativity and resilience. But there's tremendous turmoil in the rest of the education biz.

The bedrock of the system, for decades, has been the standardized test. We're a country of small towns, don't forget, with thousand upon thousands of local school boards that don't take dictation from some high-falutin Secretary of Education in Wash. DC, no sirree, ma'am. So the only way to find out what the kids have learned is to give 'em all a test, right? Seems sensible, but even on the state level, a concept as straightforward as the WASL becomes fraught with political risk.

Imagine, then, the 500-pound gorilla: College Board, which administers the gold standard SATs on behalf of Educational Testing Service. Scoring high on your SATs (once known as Scholastic Aptitude Tests) was a make-or-break deal for getting into a good college. An entire test-prep industry grew up around the SATs and alternative ACTs, to the profit of a few and the dismay of many.

College admissions consultants--at least the ones who don't also offer test prep--point out that 700 colleges don't require either test, just high grades and good recommendations. Last year, NACAC, the National Association of College Admissions Counselors, commissioned a study to find out if the tests actually have any value. This week, at NACAC's annual conference in Seattle, the answer: not really.

While it's still too early to say if this is the death knell for SATs, it's a safe bet that the college admissions game is going to change dramatically. The best advice (to kids) from the NACAC study: turn off the iPod, put down your cell, and just do your homework. The path to college is still tough, but there's light at the top of the stairs.

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This page contains a single entry by Cornichon published on September 26, 2008 12:00 PM.

Matt's Overlooking the Market was the previous entry in this blog.

Shameful "Storia Segreta" at Festa Italiana is the next entry in this blog.

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