Obama looks to limit standardized testing

By NOAH FOSTER-KOTH

On Oct. 26, President Barack Obama announced his goal to limit the amount of standardized testing required in schools. It is unclear how this announcement will impact the admissions process at Lewis & Clark College, since many prospective students submit standardized test scores to the admissions office as part of their application.

Lisa D. Meyer, the Dean of Enrollment and Communications at LC, said that standardized test scores are one of several factors that the LC admissions staff consider when reviewing a student’s application.

“We review a student’s application, essay, transcripts, letters of recommendation, activities outside of the classroom, and interest in attending Lewis & Clark when making admissions decisions.” Meyer said. “Test scores play a part in this process if an applicant chooses to submit SAT or ACT scores.”

The average American student takes 112 mandatory standardized tests between entering kindergarten and graduating high school, according to a recent study conducted by the Council of the Great City Schools.

“The report shows how much opportunity there is to eliminate redundant and uncoordinated tests and free up more classroom time for teaching and learning,” President Obama said in a video posted on the White House Facebook page.

On Oct. 24, the United States Department of Education released an outline of their plan to eliminate tests that they deem superfluous, including measures that would prevent standardized tests from occupying more than two percent of classroom time.

“States and school districts should carefully consider whether each assessment serves a unique, essential role in ensuring that students are learning,” the Department of Education said in the outline.

For many students, the main purpose of standardized testing is to increase their chances of getting into the college of their choice, since many colleges require prospective students to report test scores during the college application process. Zachary Lerman ’19, took both the SAT and the ACT in order to make his college application more competitive.

“I took an eight-week long class in the summer between sophomore and junior year to prepare for the SAT,” Lerman said. “If you want to get into a prestigious university, you have to take these tests.”

At LC, a student’s academic record holds the most weight in the review process, but standardized test scores are still considered if a student chooses to include them in his or her application.

“If a school offers Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, or honors courses we like to see that a student has challenged themselves by taking rigorous classes,” Meyer said. “If a student submits testing, we will consider the scores along with other submitted materials. What is most important is that a student has challenged themselves in the curriculum presented at their high school and found success in these courses.”

Since 1991, the LC admissions staff has allowed applicants to submit a portfolio of graded classroom work in place of standardized test scores. In lieu of SAT/ACT scores, students may submit a portfolio comprised of a sample of analytical writing, a sample of quantitative/scientific work, and two academic evaluations from the student’s high school instructors.

One LC student, who asked to remain anonymous, described their experience with the portfolio path: “I really liked the portfolio option, because it showed that I had been successful in school and in my classes. I didn’t think my test scores really showed my academic abilities.”

Meyer said that the test-optional portfolio is meant to acknowledge “the many different ways that a student can demonstrate their preparation for college and success on campus.”

“If testing is provided as part of an application, the admissions committee will review the test scores along with all of the other materials submitted. Admissions is not determined by a single score and we do not give preference to one test over another,” Meyer said.

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