My Child’s Fate, All Laid Out by 13

by gurumommy on March 4, 2010

in hot topics

This funny article in NY Times Styles Section made me laugh out loud.  Michelle Slatalla writes that: “The other day at breakfast, when my husband read that the SAT people are planning to expand their standardized test empire into middle schools with an exam for eighth-graders, he became alarmed.
“Don’t get any ideas,” he said, looking up from the newspaper.”  I had to laugh since I have many friends who would just be chomping at the bit to prepare their kids for SAT’s in middle school, ‘just another way to compare, compete and prep your kids early’ they would say (and you know who you are!).  Michelle continues by arguing that her husband is “…unfair. O.K., maybe there was a time, when my two older daughters were in the throes of taking all the College Board’s other tests — the Preliminary SAT, the SAT, the SAT II subject tests and the Advanced Placement exams — when I went a little overboard.
If I had it to do over, I probably wouldn’t have piped Spanish-language refresher tapes into anyone’s room while she slept. And maybe I also went too far that time when I was trying to slip obscure vocabulary words into everyday dinner conversation and asked my oldest daughter to “please pass the comestible peas.” But I like to think that was a special situation; my older daughters were taking life-or-death college entrance exams.”  At least she can laugh at herself, right?The new ReadiStep test, however, supposedly has nothing to do with college admissions. When it starts next year, it is supposed to measure if students’ math, reading and writing skills are developing well enough to handle rigorous high school classes.
In fact, when I called Kristopher John, executive director for college readiness at the College Board, to ask for some sample ReadiStep questions, he assured me that in this case, test prep was unnecessary.
The test, he said, is intended to help teachers and school districts evaluate “how their students have performed.” Armed with that knowledge, the teachers “can better prepare them,” he added.
That may be true. But adolescence in the modern age has already turned into one long season of standardized tests. And the way I see it, with ReadiStep the whole college admissions process could now start even younger, at age 13. According to the College Board, scores on the ReadiStep will predict how the same student will score in high school on the Preliminary SAT. It’s kind of like the Educational Domino Theory: the ReadiStep predicts the PSAT, the PSAT predicts a student’s SAT scores, and SAT scores get you into college. Or not.

Of course I know that graduating from a “good” college does not predict later success. Some of the most successful people in the world — Steve Jobs and Bill Gates come to mind — were dropouts. But at least they got into pretty selective schools.
If this whole ReadiStep movement catches on, it won’t be long before parents start worrying about — and maybe hiring tutors for — their 13-year-olds. And the next thing we know, the College Board people will be inventing a Pre-ReadiStep test for seventh graders, to predict ReadiStep scores.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: