College Board studying 8th grade PSAT

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Thank you for the information, it does seem that practical skills such as knowing how to conduct simple furniture repair or sewing projects is often discounted even though these skills are very valuable for people to have. http://www.centerpiecehome.com

How sad that Marketplace felt the need to denigrate skilled craftspeople in an otherwise worthy story about preparing young people for success in college. People who know how to make things and take pride in their ability to make things WELL are the backbone of a productive economy and essential members of healthy families. Implying that their skills and knowledge are somehow less valuable than those acquired in an "academic" classroom is insulting and, frankly, ridiculous. I have an MBA and years of professional experience, yet I am grateful every day that I learned to cook, sew and manage a budget in home ec class. I think I am the only one in my circle of "career women" who can even thread a sewing machine. I wish I could have taken woodshop, too! We would all be better off if all our students had the opportunity to explore academic subjects and hands-on skills.

Taking a standardized test like the PSAT in middle school is not a new concept. The Duke Talent Identification Program has been around for 29 years. Duke TIP is a program that idetifies academically talented students in late elementary or middle school. Students identified by this program take the ACT or SAT as a 7th grader. As a 7th grader, I was identified by the TIP program and took the SAT then. That doesn't make me a genius or any better than anyone else, but it does show that this sort of testing won't ruin a kid's life and maybe it will make them feel smart when they find out they get to take a test that is really for big kids. All in all, it does give you kind of an advantage about what to expect when you enter a test scenario like the SAT. In the 7th grade I forgot my calculator, let's just say when I took the PSAT and SAT for real, I didn't make that mistake again.

More testing? No thanks. How about some learning? Our children need to learn to think, not just regurgitate facts. Oh yeah, woodshop is pretty good also. By the way, the single best thing parents and schools could do to help students is a significant increase in reading, at all ages. It's easy, not painful, develops creativity and concentration. Win, win, win.

As an educator, I think we are over testing our students. Plus, there is something to be said about requiring students to take a high-stakes standardized assessment to enter college, a place that caters to their individuality. I applaud The National Center for Fair and Open Testing for offering an alternative point of view to a nation crippled by high-stakes assessments.

I took great offense at Ms. Babin remark about ending up in Wood Shop. It shows how little respect she has for tradesmen’s work and unfortunately she has now perpetuate the myth that people who work with their hands are at the bottom of the academic rung. In my experience as a white collar worker, most people who just use their brains are completely out of touch with the world and on reliant on everyone else to do the actually work. Most people I know who have a vocational trading are smart, have a great deal of common sense and contribute a enormously to their community.
I think she owes an apology for her remarks and she should follow up with a report on the important of vocational training. College is not for everyone and thank god for that because then we as American would have absolutely no skills in actually making a product and fixing what we already own. These skilled people can help us reduce waste by repairing what we use and improving on what we already own.
I hope she never has to get her car repair, roof fixed, use any form of transportation or have the desire to have gas, electricity or water delivered to her home. All of these consumptions are delivered by vocational train individuals

Please, Ms. Babin--

Give me facts over emotion any time. There is a very direct line between young people unsuccessfully seeking employment (you know, the 20 and 30 year old graduates in their parent's basements) and the erosion in a clear understanding of the physical world and the tools to function in it.
At Labor Day time, how about a bit of honor for the folks who fabricate, rivet, bond, and wire the beautiful Boeing fuselages that roll by my school--northwest from Wichita to Seattle for the fitting of wings on the most reliable aircraft in the World? Yes, we need many excellent "behind the desk" engineers to design stuff, but we'll always need a host of those very important folks (the best of whom took woodshop) to bolt and screw our world together, relieving the absolute drudgery of previous generations--and give us a life of great ease: whether that's leak-proof plumbing, smooth roads, strong bridges, cheap clothing, plentiful food or the absolute host of other things that "college graduates" take for granted FAR TOO OFTEN.

Where would this country be without those people who know how to create something with one's own hands?
If society decided to emphasize coupling manual skills with the creative process, we might be pleasantly surprised at the results in the arts, the sciences, business, sports, engineering, medicine, the gross domestic product, and many other areas that do not come to mind. Frank Wilson, the author of "The Hand," submitted that the tight association between brain development and the use of the hand challenges Descartes' dictum of "Cogito, ergo sum" (I think therefore I am). Wilson quotes Antonio Damasio's work in neurology and cognitive neuroscience to suggest a more appropriate assertion for the purpose of the mind in the words on a T-shirt given to him by a jazz musician: "I jam, therefore I am." Damasio argues that the mind exists for the body. [See note 19, on page 324 of "The Hand," 1998.] Henry Clark, born in 1892, was reasonably skilled with his hands as well as his mind. He was the editor of his yearbook in high school, and being a practical, focussed person, decided to return to work with his father after experiencing 3 days of college, which he assessed to have little purpose. Later, based on his experience, insight, organizational skills, and his ability to make things with his hands, he was able to foresee a need for an easy way to get in and out of a shelter for a car, an increasingly popular possession at the time. On October 25, 1938, he was awarded US patent # 2,134,397 for his invention of the Overhead Door. Perhaps both the SAT and ACT should consider a new assessment exam, one which would assess a person's manual skills. I imagine there would be plenty of shop teachers ready and able to help develop it.

As a sociology instructor, I discuss the possible risks, standardized tests may have on students...simply because one tests well does not make him/her more suited for college, than one who does not. I would be discouraged by the possibility that the night before a test of this nature my child was sick, could not sleep, or simply stayed up too late and found himself/herself unable to perform well on a test that could determine his/her course structure throughout high school. Determinants of capability should come from observation, from instructors, on everyday work, which actually shows a student’s level of ability and interest.


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