You Are Not a Number

Education Entrepreneur
Shawn O'Connor takes on the collective myth you have just a certain ability to get a certain number on this test and that that cannot be changed.
  • Transcript


Shawn O’Connor: I'm not someone who is going to defend every single standardized test that's out there, but schools do need the ability to compare students who are from different parts of the country who've studied different majors but who all want to pursue the same degree.  And so what standardized tests allow schools to do is to have one benchmark - and it’s only one benchmark; there are obviously a lot of other factors in the application process - but it provides one benchmark where we can line up all of the different students and sort of understand what they’re likely potential is.

What I think have been the two negative social implications of sort of the proliferation of standardized tests has been, number one, this common collective myth that has developed that you have just a certain ability to get a certain number on this test and that that cannot be changed.  We prove that wrong every single day at Stratus Prep.  And the second is the notion that these tests are in no way influenced by sort of one’s personal background or one’s early childhood education.  I mean, the statistics are quite clear: your performance on a standardized test in graduate school is in some way impacted by where you grew up and what type of elementary and middle school that you were able to attend.  That's something that I think the test writers should be challenged by everyone to continue working to reduce because it really is obviously not fair that there are factors beyond your control that are impacting your test performance.  But it’s much less of a deterministic factor than people think.  Does early childhood education impact standardized test performance?  Yes.  But the amount that it impacts is much less than people think, so don’t use that as an excuse.  Don’t think, "Oh, I can’t do well because I didn’t go to a great grade school."  It may mean that you have to work a little bit harder, but you can get there.

Directed / Produced by
Jonathan Fowler & Elizabeth Rodd