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It’s SAT season and everyone college-bound high-schooler is waiting (im)patiently to learn their scores and agonizing over missing the mark. Well, good news. Now you can start having unnecessary aneurysms as early as middle school!

The College Board has developed a new test aimed at 8th graders called ReadiStep, which will be a 2 hour multiple-choice test examining critical reading, writing, and math.

According to the Times article on it, the College Board insists that this a “low stakes” exam is meant to prepare students but not to scare them. The test will not be reported to anyone except teachers, students, parents and schools… Excuse me if I find this a bit curious. Isn’t that everyone that matters? I wonder how good of an idea it is to place “low stakes” pressure on kids this age. The zealots among them will likely study like their life depends on it and develop a personality defect forcing them to be pointlessly competitive while the average 13-year old will shrug it off as an unnecessary exercise in diagnostics.

Still, on the other hand, as per Eva Ostrum’s book The Thinking Parent’s Guide to College Admissions, urban students score lower than suburban students, and whites & Asians score higher than African-Americans and Hispanics. According to these statistics, it might be helpful to institute some type of diagnostic testing in urban communities to gauge academic progress among these groups before they reach high school. However, don’t many states already have this? For example, New Jersey has the standardized GEPA test which determines if students are prepared to move on to the rigors of high school academics. This seems like yet another attempt from the College Board to monopolize the standardized exam market.

Either way, this trend toward placing import on standardized tests is fostering a culture of sizing up instead of supporting a true joy for learning.

Related, the College Board has SAT scores available online for October and November. Click here to find out how great (or how terrible) your life will turn out to be.

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