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Test Scores Important, But Not Final Arbiters of Success

August 30, 2010

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Numbers for Tennessee high school students taking the SAT or ACT academic achievement tests fell significantly this year, but are comparable to rates in other states during the first few years of requiring 100 percent participation.

Only six states require all high school juniors and seniors to take the ACT standardized college admission tests, and Tennessee Education Association Executive Director Al Mance says Tennessee students scored pretty well. While the tests are required for students who plan to attend college, Mance points out that the scores are only a small part of the overall evaluation of a student's performance.

"I don't think we should assign so much value to it, that if you have a certain proportion of students who don't achieve at the national average, we should suddenly make a decision that either the state has become dumber or somehow, a school system is failing.""

Mance says some experts believe the ACT is seen as a predictor of success in college, but in his opinion the test is just one part of a larger picture when evaluating students' futures.

"We can't reduce our expectations of students based on what they achieved on one test, any test. The tests don't give us the formula for life."

Mance also doesn't feel the need to require a particular minimum score on SAT or ACT tests for graduation, but says the test scores can help school systems determine where to focus resources for future classes.

Randy O'Brien, Public News Service - TN