We all know the world is full of standardized tests and cognitive batteries to determine how well students succeed across various academic domains. Whether you take the SSAT, PSAT, SAT, ACT, ITBS, STAR, ERBs, or the countless others floating around in academia, you are bound to get a final score that indicates how well your child measures against the rest of the students in that age group, your school, state, and/or across the nation.
Many parents will admit that those computerized, complex, statistical printouts can bring peace of mind when one digests all of those numbers, percentiles, quartiles, and stanines (or at least utter confusion). Though let's be real. Most parents read them in an effort to see how their child stacks up to the rest of the crowd.
The problem with these standardized tests is that they provide only a minute snapshot of a child's very complex learning profile. A multiple choice test doesn't speak to overall emotional intelligence, or how conscientious he is as a student. It won't measure motivation or empathy for others, nor will it tell you if a student is typically open to new ideas or one who bounces back quickly from disappointment. It can't tell you if your child is someone who is a strong collaborator and positive group member. Finally, it won't give you any information about feelings towards issues around social justice and making a difference in the community or beyond.
I would argue that the aforementioned qualities are equally as important, if not more, than the academic scores that one yields on any test, and research is beginning to show the validity of that statement. In fact, there are many studies making it crystal clear: the best predictors of G.P.A. in the primary grades are the non-cognitive skills such as the ones mentioned above. Most would also agree that employers are more inclined to worry more about a prospective candidate's work ethic than their GPA when making an offer. I certainly am! In addition, studies are now showing that the biggest predictor of one's actual lifespan has more to do with work ethic (non-cognitive skills) than any other measure (i.e. salary, GPA) - imagine that!
Now don't get me wrong. I know that my children will be exposed to many standardized tests in their lifetime. Admittedly, until priorities change, I also accept that testing will be a necessary evil my children must endure. That said, I also know deep in my heart that these standardized scores will never matter half as much as the scores my children receive in the following areas:
- Treating others with respect and kindness
- Demonstrating a passion for something meaningful
- Recognizing and celebrating the diversity on our planet in a purposeful way
- Finding joy in their lives
- Understanding that honesty is the best policy
- Learning how to honorably accept disappointment
- Understanding that uncomfortable conversations can often lead to major growth and progress
- Acquiring an openness to hearing and respecting new ideas
- Giving back to others and jumping in when help is needed
- Portraying a strong work ethic in their everyday lives
- Loving who they are
- Growing in confidence through successes and failures
- Recognizing when humility is warranted
- Being a reliable and faithful friend
I can only hope my children receive high scores in these important life skills and habits of goodness, for I truly believe the rest will naturally fall into place. That said, what about you? What scores are most important to your family? I'd love to hear from you.