Standardized Exams Cannot Measure Excellence
|Above copied from|
Allensworth, E. M., & Clark, K. (2020). High School GPAs and ACT Scores as Predictors of College Completion: Examining Assumptions About Consistency Across High Schools. Educational Researcher. https://doi.org/10.3102/0013189X20902110
The above graphs show how college graduation rates correlate with high school grade point averages (left) and scores in the ACT exam (right). Each of the gray lines is a high school. The ACT graph has much less variability and its spread is especially narrow at the low end of the ACT scores. This suggests that the ACT exam, like other standardized exams, is written to spot deficiencies. This naturally comes from a significant number of questions in the test that only probe fundamental topics or skills in basic education. What is important to note is how the curves (almost for every high school) dives as one goes to higher range of ACT scores. The problem with any standardized exam is that preparation can significantly alter the score. Students can enroll in classes designed specifically to prepare for the ACT test. Of course, some students can do well if the preparation matches the exam. An excellent performance in ACT thus measures either privilege, access or resources and begins to perform poorly in predicting college graduation rates. At the high end, the ACT exam is measuring something else. And I drew a red curve to emphasize this trend. It is amazing that almost each and every gray line shows this trend.
ACT does have something to say regarding this recent research but it is definitely clear that using standardized test scores on an individual basis is deceptive.
Tests should never be intended for ranking, sorting or selecting our children. Tests are assessments. These should only inform instruction. And we must keep this in mind especially when dealing with standardized tests. Here is a short video from Ken Williams reminding us, educators, that we must stop labeling our children.