The Super Early, Useless SAT

Apparently the United States doesn’t have enough standardized tests already.

According to an article by Lynn O’Shaughnessy at CBS Money Watch:

Have you ever heard anybody make this argument: what this country needs is more standardized testing for college-bound children? Probably not, but that hasn’t discouraged the SAT test mavens at the College Board from rolling out a baby SAT for middle schoolers.

You could call it a pre-pre-pre-SAT. That’s the term that a senior vice president at the College Board used once when denying that the exam is simply a premature SAT test.

It’s called ReadiStep and according to the College Board, which developed it, the examination “provides early feedback on students’ skills. It identifies areas in which students need to develop their skills, as well as students who are ready for more advanced course work.”

And what should schools do with that “early feedback”?

According to James Popham, professor emeritus in the graduate school of education at the University of California, Los Angeles, ReadiStep is “just as deceptive as can be. It conveys the notion that your child has these strengths and weaknesses, when there is no way to tell.”

According to Popham, it’s not early testing that’s the problem—in fact Popham rather likes early testing—it’s just that the test isn’t very good. As he explained to the New York Times “It’s not the early testing that bothers me. It’s the early, wrong kind of testing.”

And that what ReadiStep seems to be: the wrong kind of testing.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer