Low Test Scores? How Your Child’s Future Isn’t Defined by Their Academic Performance

It’s common for parents to stress over their child’s low test scores. However, a growing amount of research suggests that academic performance might not be the holy grail of success that people assume it is. Before you take away dessert because of a bad grade, here are just a few reasons why your child might turn out just fine after all:

Test Scores Have No Impact on College Graduation Rates

A study by the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) has revealed that there’s no real difference between the graduation rates of “test-optional” colleges and traditional colleges that still require the SAT/ACT. There’s also no difference in the overall GPAs of the students: Those who took the SAT/ACT didn’t outperform their peers in any meaningful way. This is good news for parents who are worried that one bad test will define their child’s future, especially if that test is centered around college prep. Statistically speaking, your child’s readiness for college has nothing to do with their test scores.

Standardized Tests Are Under Fire

If you’ve done any research on the topic, you’re probably already aware that standardized tests have a great number of detractors in the form of parents, teachers, administrators and school counselors. A lesser-known fact is that research backs them up. According to a study performed by the National Education Association (NEA), 70 percent of educators think that their state’s standardized tests are developmentally inappropriate and in need of revision. According to the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP), more than two-thirds of children in public schools exhibit signs of stress during standardized test time. While these exams might have been designed to help, the argument can be made that they’re actually doing more harm than good. Think carefully before putting pressure on your child to perform well on standardized tests.

Many Successful People Have Terrible Academic Records

Bill Gates dropped out of college. According to his Slideshare profile, Dallin Larsen of Vasayo barely scraped the double digits for his ACT score. Yet, he went on to own 20 businesses. Even Al Gore received a “D” in natural science before he became an award-winning voice on global warning. The world is full of leaders and innovators who struggled in school because their boundless ideas couldn’t fit inside the rigid confines of their educational institutions. As long as your child is curious, creative and willing to learn about topics that interest them, you shouldn’t worry too much about their grades. They’ll make their own path instead of following the one laid out for them by their schools.

Not All Employers Care About GPAs

Some businesses have stopped asking for the nitty-gritty details of an interviewee’s education. Google, for example, has gone on record saying that they aren’t concerned with things like test scores and grade point averages. They even said that GPAs are “worthless as a criteria for hiring.” They look for candidates with applicable job skills and industry-related experience, and these factors aren’t determined by a person’s academic record. While having a degree can still be a boon to your child’s resume, their exact number of “A”s and “B”s might not matter as much, especially if they’re training or building skills in their field at the same time. Don’t get anxious if their record has a few letters from the lower end of the grading scale.

These are just a few reasons why your child’s struggling academic performance might not spell disaster for their future. Education is important, of course, but getting a good education doesn’t automatically translate into getting good grades. Some learning experiences are based on things like imagination and intuition, and these qualities might just be the ones that fuel your future doctor, engineer or artist.

Tim Esterdahl

Tim Esterdahl is the editor of IFCS blog. He is a married father of three and enjoys golf in his spare time.

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