The Problem with the ACT + Standardized Testing During the COVID-19 Pandemic

As I stated in my introductory blog post, I am almost certain my financial life was determined by how many of the final ten questions on each ACT subtest were letter choice C.  This should not be how this process is done. Although I benefited from it, I do not think one’s financial aid in college should be determined by random choices on a multiple-choice test. A person is much more than their score on a standardized test.

Through the 1950s, executives in the Education Testing Service (ETS) strongly believed that no one could practice for the SAT. They felt the test was strictly a measure of a student’s aptitude. Around the same time, Stanley Kaplan graduated from a public college in New York near the top of his class, but he was denied entry to five medical schools because they did not consider his public education as legitimate. Soon, Kaplan quietly began a tutoring service to help students with the SAT. Kaplan actually supported the SAT, feeling it helped underprivileged students like himself gain access to better colleges and careers. Nevertheless, he unknowingly defied the idea that one could not prepare for the SAT when his students scored signficantly better on the SAT after taking his preparatory course. Today, the same thing happens with the ACT, although it is an achievement test. High schools around the United States offer ACT Prep classes that teach students how to take the test. In my opinion, students should not lose instructional time in other areas to learn the tricks of an exam, and the ACT should not be considered with such importance. Students’ future success, again, should only be determined by their true academic ability, which is much more accurately measured by grade point average and success in advanced level classes.

Nevertheless, I am not completely against standardized testing as a whole. In their place, I do think tests are a good way to measure student learning, but they should not bear such incredible weight. If the pressure created by the circumstances surrounding standardized tests was reduced, then I think they would be viewed more positively by people.

I have not personally experienced standardized testing during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, one of my friends was not able to take the ACT she needed to pass in order to gain entry into the College of Education. As a result, she is currently being forced to take another entrance exam. Not offering any alternatives for students to take the ACT during the pandemic does appear to be an issue. Perhaps ACT should consider offering the exam online with a service like ProctorU. From my own personal experience, this has worked well for PRAXIS exams.


A Product of Public Schooling

Hello everyone. Thank you for taking the time to visit our blog. My name is Logan Mitchell. I am an Interdisciplinary Studies (e.g. Elementary Education K-5) major at Tusculum University in my junior year. I am from a small town in East Tennessee named Rogersville. I am a lifelong product of public education: I spent my thirteen school years in the Hawkins County School district. I enjoyed academic success, maintaining a 4.0 GPA throughout my educational career. One of my biggest honors was giving the introductory speech at my high school graduation.

The first experience with a standardized test I remember is the TCAP in 1st grade. Back then, the state still administered the TCAP in 1st and 2nd grade. I do not remember much about the test, but it has always stuck with me that I began standardized testing at such a young age. My biggest memories of the TCAP tests in elementary and middle school were looking forward to them. The tests were usually easy for me, and there was plenty of time given to complete them. After testing each day, we got to have fun and play games. The time after the test on a TCAP day were some of my most fun memories of primary school. Upon reaching high school, however, the tests became more rigorous with the state’s implementation of the TN Ready program, based on the Common Core Standards. Furthermore, we would no longer receive free time after tests. Instead, we would simply go to our regular classes as usual.

Perhaps the most important standardized test in my career was the ACT. When I took this test for the first time during the summer between my sophomore and junior year, I remember not being able to sleep the night before. For the first time, I was nervous to take a test, although part of my anxiety may have been that I had to take the test at Dobyns-Bennett High School in Kingsport, TN. Despite all this, my scores on that test were acceptable, but I was very motivated to retake the test at my high school as a junior. This go-round, I scored a 29. Knowing this score would lock me in for high-dollar academic scholarships at various local colleges, I was plenty satisfied with it. Upon further reflection, I have realized that my post-secondary education hinged greatly on how many answers in the last ten questions of each subtest were C. This is because I would always run out of time while taking each test and would quickly fill in C for the remaining problems. Although I benefited from this, I do not like the idea of one’s random answer choices on a test being a determining factor in his or her financial aid. A person’s life is too important to depend on whether they get random answers correct on a standardized test. In my opinion, the best temporary solution is to extend the time given for each subtest for the ACT or SAT. However, I strongly feel we should look at other factors besides standardized testing to determine students’ financial aid.