A pre-PSAT for 8th graders

Why wait for junior year? An 8th-grade PSAT exam will be introduced in 2010. The idea is to identify students with college potential before they start high school. But wouldn’t their middle-school grades be a tip off?

Only 22 percent of students who take the ACT are prepared to pass college English, reading, math and science. If they’d been tested in eighth grade, would the 78 percent have worked harder? Or would they have given up on college?

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  1. I’m not sure how widespread this is, but Illinois has been requiring all students to take the ACT for the last few years. That’s not to say the numbers are encouraging, but even those who have no intention of going to college now take the ACT here.

  2. deirdremundy says:

    The gifted kids were already being encouraged to take the SAT in 7th grade back when I was in school…. it was part of the Johns Hopkins Talent Search…..

    Of course, that means by the time we took the PSAT and SAT for REAL, they were really no big deal… we’d already taken them at LEAST 4 times before….

    Maybe other kids who aren’t tagged as “gifted” might get a benefit from knowing the tests earlier…

    But I think you’d also see a big grade DECREASE after… from the slacker-types who have natural ability, do decently well on the SAT a 7th graders, and then conclude that they don’t need to do anything for the next few years because they’re already smart enough for college!

  3. I have no problem with 8th grade PSATs, provided they are used as a sorting tool, to identify potential in students. Used that way, they might well find students who had not planned to go to college.

    In practice, the tests often cause the “anointed ones” to coast, since they are so obviously brainy. Few so identified perform higher after, and many take their score as an indication that they don’t need to work hard.

    In math and science, hard work usually separates the top students from the mediocre.

    Regardless of potential.

  4. Andromeda says:

    There are tons of bright kids with terrible grades, and their teachers don’t always know bright they are.

    That said, this does seem like a silly test.

  5. “Only 22 percent of students who take the ACT are prepared to pass college English, reading, math and science. ”

    You really should state this correctly, because this is howlingly distorted.

    The ACT creates a benchmark score that it thinks is necessary for college. No one has ever confirmed this, to the best of my knowledge.

    Given that the Science test doesn’t test science, and the Reading test is brutally fast, I very much doubt any college takes these as marks of “college readiness”.

    It’s simply nonsense to take their benchmarks seriously. Far worse is to fail to mention that these are ACT benchmarks, not the absolutes you claim them to be.

    I’m a big fan of the ACT. But their benchmarks are bulls**t.

  6. I had rather poor grades in middle school, because it bored me silly. My grades were much more correlated with the percentage of the grade which depended on tests than with my natural aptitude for the subject or the amount I actually learned in the class.

    Linda F, my problem was that in high school, it didn’t take hard work in math or science to be a top student. And I went to a “good” school.