Rough Draft Persuasive Paper Standardized testing: What's wrong with this picture? The ACT: this particular standardized test has many connotations, and few of them are positive ones. When one thinks of the ACT, or American College Testing, feelings of nervousness, pressure to perform well, and the words “rigged,” “biased,” and “tricky” often come to mind. All across America, students and parents alike experience similar feelings of pressure and confusion when it comes to the ACT test.

There seems to be enough pressure to perform well in school socially and academically without the added pressure of a standardized test that has some questionable elements. Michigan's composite score for 2013 was 19. 9; there are those who wonder whether or not it is indicative of Michigan student's true academic prowess. Many would hold that it is not. Standardized tests such as the ACT are unfairly biased. Therefore, the test misrepresents a student's true intelligence and academic competency and decreases a student's chances to receive needed scholarship funds.

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The ACT is unfairly biased toward students of a certain gender, race, and income. If one zeroes in on gender-bias, it begs the question, “How can we fix this, and if we can, should we? ” First of all, the multiple choice format is biased towards boys. “Research shows that a fast-paced, multiple-choice format favors males over females. Guessing, a risk males are more likely to take, is rewarded. Since multiple-choice items do not allow for shades of meaning they work against the most typical female thinking style.” (The ACT: Biased, Inaccurate, and Misused)

Apparently, boys score slightly higher than girls regardless of their race, despite the fact that boys have actually lower grades in high school than girls overall. An article on the Fair Test website stated, “Although the ACT gender gap is smaller than that of the SAT, it is likely that this test also under predicts the abilities of young women. For example, despite the fact that identical percentages of male and female ACT-takers take Algebra II and Chemistry, females' scores on the Mathematics and Science Reasoning sections of the test are significantly lower than males.” (The ACT: Biased, Inaccurate, and Misused)

Besides the ACT being biased toward gender, it also is biased toward people of a certain race. Black and Latino students score below whites and Asians on tests because these races of students are not very often able to go to elite schools that will help them score well on the ACT. This is because schools rely on a test that advantages one racial group over another. (Civil Rights Act. ) An article on education. com notes, “According to ACT research, when all factors are equal, such as course work, grades and family income, Whites still outscore all other groups.

If the ACT were not biased, Asian Americans, who take more academic courses than any other group, would likely score even higher. ” (The ACT: Biased, Inaccurate, Coachable, and Misused) In an article on the advantages and disadvantages of the ACT test, it was stated “Fairtest. org reports that the normal procedure for testing and selecting questions for achievement tests favors students who have access to stronger academic education. Minority, lower income, special needs and English as second language students, on average, perform less well on achievement assessments.

According to Fairtest. org, test design and the standardization process exacerbates the failure to recognize the differences in students' abilities and backgrounds. The ACT is biased against income, making it difficult for students who need to take it more than once to try to raise their score, but don't have the financial means to do so. According to fairtest. com, “ACT scores are directly related to family income: the richer students' parents are, the higher are average scores. But score gaps between groups on the ACT cannot be explained away solely by differences in educational opportunity linked to social class.” (The ACT: Biased, Inaccurate, and Misused)

In other words, if one's family is wealthy, or maybe one has a rich, benevolent uncle, then one has a better chance of getting a higher score on the ACT. With an abundance of funds, one would be able to pay for state of the art preparation such as classes that can cost hundreds of dollars. Also, you can pay for a school that will prepare you adequately for the test, and you can afford to pay for the test more than once in the hopes of receiving a better score and a better chance of being accepted into an elite college with more scholarship money.

While this is a positive situation for students with affluent relations, there are many more that do not have this luxury, and are at a greater risk for not being able to be given the chance to succeed in their fullest capacity. Jeremy Wood, Associate Director of Admissions at Aquinas College, noted, that in some cases, the admissions department will accept two students; one has a high GPA and an impressive ACT score, the other, a lower number in both. Mr. Wood said that they will have high hopes for the academically successful student, and hope all goes well for the student with lower scores, going on faith that that student will succeed.

In some cases, the student with the low scores will actually surprise the college, thriving in the well-organized and effective educational atmosphere and going on to being very successful in their career. The student with the high GPA and impressive ACT scores however, sometimes does not measure up, his grades inflated, and high ACT score from figuring out the “tricks,” instead of having true academic competency. If the college had not accepted both, than one would never know how one student that seems unpromising can astound when given the opportunity and proper scholastic atmosphere.

Therefore, it seems logical that a test that scores the logical and academic skills of students should not be biased toward gender, race, and income. As shown, the ACT is obviously biased, but to make matters worse for students with heavy workloads and pressure to score well, the ACT misrepresents a student's true intelligence and academic competence. The standardized ACT should not so heavily affect if a student is accepted into college. Imagine a monkey, penguin, elephant, tiger, and goldfish in a bowl are sitting in front of a professor's desk.

The professor points to a tall tree and says, “Everyone go climb that tree; the higher up you climb, the higher the score you will receive. Your standardized test begins now. ” Naturally, this scenario seems illogical, but it is how the ACT test has been formulated and administered throughout the country. Each student, no matter how creative, naturally talented, or skilled in academics they may be, could quite possibly be overlooked by the administration of a school simply because he does not meet the standard they call “excellence” in three limited fields.

If each person excelled at these three exclusively, we would most likely have a very anti-social world devoid of art and music in its intricate, complex and wondrous forms. In an article against the ACT test, Alfie Kohn said, “The ACT can't measure initiative, creativity, imagination, conceptual thinking, curiosity, effort, irony, judgment, commitment, nuance, good will, ethical reflection, or a host of other valuable dispositions and attributes.” (Kohn)

High school is no walk in the proverbial park of education; it takes time, four years to be exact, of hard work, not to mention how hard it is to succeed socially. Why should four years of hard work suddenly be canceled out by several hours of a test that does not truly measure intelligence? Once in the realm of the ACT's failure to measure true intelligence, one realizes this is a multifaceted issue. To look at it objectively, the question is begged, “What is intelligence? What is smart, or genius for that matter?”

When one looks at the definitions of these three adjectives people use to describe academic, logical, and mental competency, one finds there are three entirely different answers. In a nutshell, intelligence is “the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills,” smart is “characterized by sharp quick thought; bright,” and genius, “exceptional intellectual or creative power or other natural ability. ”(Definition given by Google. com) These three represent three different entities of mental capacity, and therefore cannot be limited to being defined by one standardized test.

An article on the advantages and disadvantages of achievement tests said, “Standardized achievement tests are not created by the student's primary teacher, the test may not accurately reflect the objectives the test taker was learning, and therefore provide an inaccurate presumption of the test taker's intelligence. ” (Bolling) In fact, there is just such an example that has occurred in recent days to a young man from Grand Rapids. This particular young man struggled in high school, presumably from not applying himself to his work.

When he did do well on an assignment, the teachers would not believe it was his own work, since that quality did not show up in his other assignments. However, he scored highly on the ACT and was given a full-ride scholarship the University of Alabama. He enjoyed the school, but struggled, particularly in math. By the first semester of his sophomore year, he had left the school to come home and work, since he didn't feel he had the mental and mature capacity to excel in the collegiate scene. He is just one of many who may indeed have this same problem.

They figure out the tricks of the ACT (which is undoubtedly most of what it entails,) scored well and therefore received a full-ride scholarship since the administration of the school assumed that those who perform well on standardized tests must have the mental and logical prowess to perform well in all the areas of academia. Standardized tests should not be used to judge educational quality, but to provide comparative interpretations of a single few areas of education. (Popham)

Therefore, they are also not competent judging scales of true intelligence or genius and should not be used so heavily in accepting students into schools and providing them with scholarships. Speaking of scholarships, the ACT should not play such a big role in determining how much financial aid in the way of scholarships a student receives. Figuring out the tricks of the test should not mean that they get more funds to help them pay for a quality education, specifically if their areas of genius are not in English, science, or math. How much a student receives in scholarships should be more dependent on a student's GPA or on a more specific means that translates a student's academic prowess.

Instead, many schools add a student's ACT score and GPA together to create a certain score that determines whether or not they get a certain scholarship amount. According to Fairtest. org, “The ACT's flaws have serious consequences. Despite its inaccuracies, biases, and coach ability, ACT cut-off scores are often used to determine entrance into schools and allocate scholarships. A single point can decide whether a student is admitted or receives needed funds. Though these misuses violate ACT guidelines for proper test use, the test-maker has done nothing to stop them.

ACT has the responsibility and the power to protect students from testing abuse by refusing to send scores to colleges, scholarship agencies, and educational systems which misuse their product. ” (The ACT: Biased, Inaccurate, and Misused) For instance, “In Louisiana, high achieving students can have their tuition and fees waived for up to four years at state colleges and universities if they score above an ACT cut-off of 20. This minimum score is close to the average for White students in Louisiana, but more than three points above the African American average.

Several other state scholarship programs also employ cut scores, including Florida's "Bright Futures" and South Carolina's "Palmetto Fellows" programs (The ACT: Biased, Inaccurate, and Misused) Students who are not good test takers should not have their academic career placed in potential jeopardy because they are not able to get sufficient scholarship money. If students do not get good scholarships, they may not end up being able to go to a good college, and then get a good job, and therefore have a chance to serve society in their fullest capacity simply because their ACT score would not allow it.

The ACT is a standardized test fraught with several key issues, such as being unfairly biased towards certain students. Because of this, the test misrepresents a student's true intelligence and academic competency, as well as it decreases a student's chances to receive needed scholarship funds considerably. What to do is the next question. “The weak predictive power of the ACT, its susceptibility to coaching, examples of test score misuse, and the negative impact test score use has on educational equity all lead to the same conclusion - test scores should be optional in college admissions, said the article from Fairtest. org.

“The nearly 400 colleges and universities that already admit substantial numbers of freshman applicants without regard to test scores have shown that class rank, high school grades, and rigor of classes taken are better tools for predicting college success than any standardized test. The SAT and SAT Subject Tests are often viewed as alternatives to the ACT, yet these exams have many of the same flaws and limitations as the ACT. ”