Which Numbers Matter Most?

For high school students, spring is a time filled with testing: SAT/ ACT and subject tests, AP exams, and end of year assessments, to name just a few.

Those going to college are all too aware of these scores – along with their respective GPAs – and how these match up with their peers. Unfortunately, not all students end up feeling good about these numbers.

The good news, though, is that these numbers are not as important as we once thought (especially those related to IQ). Yes, it is helpful to know which areas may be challenging so proper support can be provided, but there is no need to dwell on this.

Research has shown that social/emotional skills and character traits that can be taught are incredibly important for success in life.

I have seen it over and over – some students do much better in school than they “should,” based on what their testing indicates. Many go on to shine even more when they can put school behind them and gravitate toward their strengths.

It is their passion, perseverance, interpersonal skills and integrity that often makes the difference. These skills can be taught and continue to develop as students mature. Thankfully, colleges have started paying more attention to evidence of these “soft skills” in their applicants.

I have mentioned before a book that speaks to this researchGrit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, by Angela Duckworth.

Recently, I listened to a Podcast with more stories on this topic. Very hopeful!
What’s Not on the Test” on the Hidden Brain podcast series by NPR. (May 13, 2019 edition)

Many students that have struggled throughout their school years have had to work harder and have learned to bounce back from multiple disappointments. As hard as that is, it is what will make college and working life easier to navigate, compared to those who have not experienced failure along the way.

So, while the testing numbers mentioned earlier do have some value, here are additional “stats” worth paying attention to:

  • How often has a student bounced back from a setback?
  • How often has a student been a loyal friend?
  • How often has a student pushed him/herself to stick with a difficult topic?
  • How often has a student realized he/she needed help and been willing to ask for support?
  • How often has a student found an area of interest and pursued it, even if it is not a traditional, “put-it-on-a-resume” activity?

In this season of test scores, let’s all keep the numbers in perspective and keep plowing ahead with helping to develop successful and happy people!

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