The deadly 2020 arrival of COVID-19 changed the world in a slew of unexpected and probably permanent ways. One industry that has shifted and suffered more than most has been education, particularly higher education. Among the many horrors visited by the plague of coronavirus has been an irresponsible acceleration of efforts to eliminate standardized testing from college admissions. And these efforts have mostly worked as college after college-themselves grappling with existential threats to their existence–have succumbed to a small but vocal test optional movement.
That said, most test prep professionals–with some glaring exceptions–understand the importance of valid, reliable, and fair standardized testing in the admissions process. And as long as the test makers remain painfully passive, we must serve as the most important public defenders of the best objective measurement of critical reasoning and college readiness available.
Why should you stay current on the truth about test optional policies? The livelihood of many test prep professionals and enterprises depends on exams like the SAT and ACT remaining essential components of the college admissions process. That should be reason enough, but our voices also matter because we are most closely connected to additional, often unseen value of these exams:
Who else has a front row seat to the basic reading, grammar, and problem solving deficiencies in today’s high schoolers?
Who else knows how enduringly beneficial real prep can be, not just in improving test scores but in imparting essential, transferable academic and executive skills?
Who else has seen as many lives changed for the better through the access, opportunity, and financial aid unlocked by superior scores?
I’ve been maintaining a page devoted to excellent articles, podcasts, and webinars about what test-optional policies really mean and who really benefits from them:
I urge all of my colleagues in education to do the research and spread the work about the truth about test optional policies in your own seminars, articles, and parent conversations. Help the educational communities you are a part of see why tests like the SAT and ACT still matter far more than people might think, even for the high school class of 2021.
Lastly, if you know of a fresh or novel insight into the truth about test optional policies that isn’t already on the resource page–especially from new voice–share the link with me through social media or email. And if you want to make sure that the public understands these truths, follow the advice you probably share with your students: if you want it, work for it!
A nationally recognized leader in test prep, Mike Bergin founded Chariot Learning in Rochester, NY in 2009 to deliver on the promise of what truly transformative, individualized education can and should be. Mike is also the founder of the free testing and admissions answer site TestBright, co-host of the Tests and the Rest college admissions industry podcast and conference series, and creator of the Facebook industry group for test prep professionals, Test Prep Tribe. Lastly, Mike is the co-author of the Amazon bestseller Crash and Learn: Lessons in Business.