Rhode Island · School Talk

Hey Alexa, Do Test Scores Matter? Duh, Of Course They Do

It turns out that one of Amazon’s considerations in deciding where to build it’s second headquarters—or HQ2— is the average SAT (or ACT) score of students in the cities on their list of potential options. Not only does it figure into their calculation of what the local talent pool will look like in the coming years but it also matters in the context of employees who will be asked to relocate their families to whichever city ultimately becomes the home of HQ2. No parent, or future parent, wants to be transferred to a place with lousy schools and one objective and comparable measure of school quality can be found in the average scores on tests like the SAT and ACT.

From the Wall Street Journal April 2nd, 2018:


Rhode Island was eliminated in the first round (remember those videos?) and while it’s impossible to know all the reasons why, I’d be willing to bet money that our schools did not help our application. Whether it’s our lousy test scores, glaring achievement gaps, high teacher absenteeism, or depressing college remediation rates, Rhode island is not a place that a data driven organization like Amazon is going to look kindly upon when it comes to education. Especially not when they can see how much we spend and contrast that with out totally subpar outcomes. And our crumbling buildings? Those couldn’t have helped either.

We are last in the country when it comes to the success index for Latino students. Dead last. Our student achievement pales in comparison to Massachusetts. While Barrington may look like a rock star when it’s compared to places within the state, put it beside a comparable town in Massachusetts and poof, all of a sudden, it doesn’t look quite so good. And statewide, only 34 percent of our 11th graders are even considered to be college and career ready in math.

From Dan McGowan at WPRI: 

(Caveat: those benchmarks are the minimum score at which a student is deemed college/career ready. They aren’t meant to be cited as ‘strong’ or ‘excellent’ scores on the tests.)

So, to all the people who continually pound the “my kid is more than a score” and “tests don’t tell us everything” drums, we hear you. And we agree. All of our children are lots of things and no one I’ve ever met believes that tests tell us everything. But there should at least be consensus around the fact that tests tell us something and they will remain a part of our children’s lives—and futures—whether they go on to become firefighters or astronauts, teachers, master electricians, or nurses. When colleges look at the application of one student, the average SAT scores (and AP scores) of their high school form part of the overall picture that the admissions office sees. So rather than rail against these annual measures of student learning and college readiness, let’s commit ourselves to doing better.

Let’s aspire to be excellent.

Hey Alexa, don’t you think it’s high time we try that?

What do you think?

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