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Should You Take the SAT/ACT or Not?

For parents of 10th, 11th and 12th graders, the question of testing looms large (especially this fall as the test optional movement has really taken hold), so let me try to help you out and give you the lowdown to help you make decisions. I’m not going to do a detailed discussion of testing policy, overuse, misuse, or the like (that’s my day job and this is my side gig), rather I want parents to come away with the tools to make the 3 binary testing decisions on the road to college application:

  1. to prep for tests or not to prep
  2. to test or not to test
  3. to submit scores or not to submit

Also I might update this post like I do my College Admissions Resources post, so check back periodically.

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My Favorite College Search Things

It’s easy to hard to find information on colleges, its hard to sort out what’s good info from what’s bad. I am constantly sending emails to people about tools to support college search and learning about what tools are good and which aren’t. So I’m going to try to compile my favorite things in this post.

This will include all the things I think you should read and use to help you understand the higher education landscape and related industries. This is essentially the listicle form of this post with additional things added in each section. I’ll update it as I remember.

Enjoy.

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#HateRead: Admissions, testing and the media

Back in 2016 I wrote about the media coverage of college admissions and testing issue. I’d taken to fisking articles on Twitter under the hashtag #hateread and thought I needed to provide a bit more explanation of that and nuance. I’m updating it now because, with all that’s going on (waves vaguely at the world), finding good information is getting harder. So here goes . . .

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Ben Simmons and Educational Testing

In a recent interview with Dr. Rawls-Dill, he mentioned Ben Simmons and an example of how what’s measured and who’s evaluating matters in determining success and quality. This really resonated with me and fine-tuned a sports analogy I’ve been making for years. Ben Simmons’s saga is the perfect example of how we’ve let standardized testing define students ability/aptitude/potential. 

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College Essay Trauma Porn

My sons make me hopeful about the future. My sons impress me with what they know and can do. My sons often surprise me. But most often my sons amuse me. Today, I share one of the amusements and surprises. My sons (Enid-Michele, my internet daughter wasn’t part of this so that’s why I’m not mentioning her.) have apparently been paying attention to pop culture and to my work. These boys, in 7th and 9th grades when this started, have been workshopping lines they claim are going into their college essays. They shared with me the beginnings of their joint effort: 

Growing up in the poorest borough of NYC, raised by a mother fighting addiction, and a father who couldn’t get a job.

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What if . . . thoughts on education

Since we’re living in “unprecedented” (are you tired of that word yet) and “challenging” (euphemism much) times, I’ve been thinking a lot about the alternative timeline we could have been living in. I’ve also been thinking quite a bit about policy, advocacy, philanthropy, and the power dynamics of education in this country. All of this combined with the disappointing “Marvel’s What If . . .?” series on Disney+, led me to start blogging again. So here it is, you get my late night thoughts about policy, philanthropy and possibility.

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College Admissions Resources

I’ve recently been talking to a lot of friends about how to help their children in 9th – 11th get ready for college. I keep inefficiently sharing the same resources over and over again, so I finally wised up and am going to post my current favorite college admissions resources here. I’m listing mostly informational resources. If I list a blog that doesn’t mean I endorse or recommend the company’s services. 

This post will evolve over time (I’ve edited and added to it 6 times in the last 2 days) so feel free to check back periodically and see if there is anything new added.

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There is a lot to the college process so I’ll break this resource list into a few general categories:

1. Academic preparation

2. Financial planning

3. College Research

4. Admissions strategizing

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Standardized Testing: The Temporal Scan of Education

As the pandemic rages and the issue of testing is discussed in a medical context, I’ve found myself increasingly noticing the parallels between the the ways in which America has discussed and politicized Covid testing and the way in which America has politicized and discussed educational testing. These parallels between medical and educational testing have me wondering if it’s a human or American failing that leads to the being so easily seduced by as Alfred Binet, father of IQ testing, put it “a simple, brutal number, which can have only a deceptive precision.

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Don’t Believe the Hype

Brigham tried to warn you in 1936. PE tried to warn you in 1988. Bigham tried to warn you repeatedly since 1990.

But, unfortunately, since the marketing machine of the testing agencies got their grips into the Stanvard Universities the narrative of the SAT providing access has taken root in the American psyche and far too many have bought into the hype about what standardized testing does and doesn’t do. Specifically about what it does and doesn’t do for Black and Hispanic people as a group.

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Shuffling the Deckchairs of Testing

I wrote this back in March but then … The Rona. I’m publishing it now since BPS just chose their vendor. I’ll likely dig into that vendor and the test first on twitter but eventually I’ll post something about it here.

After a very public breakup with test-maker Education Records Bureau (ERB), Boston Public Schools is seeking a “new test” that “accurately assesses a student’s knowledge of content they’re taught in class and has been rigorously reviewed to ensure it is free of bias.” This is disappointing since it shows that BPS seems to be set on continuing to ignore research and reiterating its faith in the cult of overtesting. 

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