I’m a words person, not a numbers person. Test scores are about numbers, but numbers don’t always tell the whole story.

Don’t get me wrong, test scores are a useful tool to measure academic retention, but it is just one tool. My highly-driven child brought home the standardized test scores of an average student. While my highly-forgetful child brought home the standardized test scores of a budding valedictorian. As such, I never put too much emphasis on these scores. Neither child would benefit from believing those numbers told the whole story.

There is one test score you can’t downplay, and that is the one you receive on your college entrance exams. Most students in Michigan took the ACT. Now it’s the newly revised SAT. Whatever the acronym, these scores factor heavily into what colleges accept you and what scholarships apply to you. Anxiety over this number begins early. Many students take practice exams, enroll in preparation classes, and learn test-taking strategies.

St. Philip High School offers a yearlong course for juniors to prepare for their college entrance, which includes not only test preparation but also completing applications, creating resumes, writing essays, soliciting letters of recommendations and practicing interview skills. I appreciate this whole body approach, for as important as those entrance exams are, it is only one part of a college application package.

My highly-driven child took this course. Her exam score was in line with the standardized test scores she had received her whole life – fair, but not remarkable. Her application package, however, was remarkable. Her GPA, recommendation letters, resume, and essays reflected the whole story. She had no trouble getting into colleges.

The school she wanted to attend offered two different merit scholarships based solely on GPA and test scores. My daughter qualified for the lower amount because of her test score. Kyra Rabbitt, St. Philip’s counselor and prep course teacher, contacted me personally about my daughter retaking the exam. I had my doubts. Those tests have never reflected my daughter’s ability. Why bother? Kyra persuaded me, saying we had nothing to lose and possibly money to gain.

She was right. My kid’s scored well enough to receive the higher merit award. The money is nice, but her teacher advocating on her behalf was even better.

When I saw this graph, I remembered my daughter’s face when she received those higher test scores. These numbers don’t lie – our kids have the highest average SAT scores of any school system in our area.

The numbers, however, don’t tell the whole story. Our kids do well because they stand on the shoulders of teachers, administrators, parents and parishioners who care about the whole student, not just the part we can test.

All of us here at the BCACS Blog wish you a blessed and happy Thanksgiving with your family and friends. We are grateful for all you do to keep our students knowing, sharing and living the Faith!

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Questions? Call Cathy Erskine at 269.963.1131