More than your scores

October 1, 2007
By
We are all walking around with numbers tattooed on our foreheads. Those numbers are all anyone sees about us. Not creativity, not personality-nothing else but those little numbers matter. We are cows, branded by figure that will determine our place in the world. High numbers are good. They mean you are intelligent, adequate. Low numbers, well low numbers mean that you are inferior, your aptitude is unlike that of your peers. No one will actually say anything but they will treat you differently.
My number happens to be 29. The makers of the ACT tell me that is a “good score”. It means that I am clever. Why should I be complaining? I will have no trouble getting into a decent college. But that is all that anyone sees me as. This summer I sat down to speak with an admissions counselor at a large university to discuss the program offerings. After learning my name she proceeded to ask me what my ACT score was and my GPA. The counselor then informed me that the college would accept me. That they would be glad to have me there and would most likely be offering me a whole array of scholarship options. She did not ask about extra curricular activities or high school curriculum. All I was to her was a number, someone to help raise the averages of the college. We should not blame that specific woman at all because that is the mentality of the entire educational system in America.
I have a friend. Let’s call her ‘B’. She happens to have a “low score” according the ACT. Now B has better grades that I do and is generally more adept at school learning than I am. During conversations between those who took the ACT, peers tend to congratulate me on my intellect and say things to B along the lines of “Really? That’s too bad.” B gets treated differently when people find out that she isn’t as smart as previous thought, judging by the standards set for us by the American government. Fortunately, B hasn’t let the score affect how she sees herself. Just as I feel no more gifted than anyone else because of my score.
We are all numbers. That is all anyone sees. Nothing else matters. Teachers, parents, administrators, friends, family, colleges all only see the blood red digits engraved on our foreheads.
This needs to stop. Intelligence cannot be measured by a single test or number. The over reliance on testing in public schools and college admissions is getting ridiculous. Tests that really measure learning do not compose of picking an answer out of four responses. The assessments that come closer to a fair representation of merit (essay, performance based) are too expensive for politicians to support because they require human test graders.
Society prefers things to be simple. Classifying students is uncomplicated and giving everyone a number is easier that acknowledging that pupils are thinking, breathing humans that can not be measured by a single standard.
So as every public school students will eventually walk around with either a scarlet letter or a shiny gold medal stamped to their forehead by the makers of a standardized test, we need to remember that your intelligence cannot truly be measured by anyone (or thing) except yourself. One number should not be able to have so much affect on our future. Until that number is scrapped off the temples of America’s youth, the education system will be ineffectual.





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