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ACT & SAT Standardized Tests - Excluding Future Innovators?
John Di Frances -- Keynote Strategic Innovation Speaker John Di Frances -- Keynote Strategic Innovation Speaker
Wales, WI
Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Minding The Giraffes: The People Side of Innovation
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Colleges Use Standardized Testing to Screen College Applicants, But are They Screening Out Many of Our Future Innovators?


Most colleges are inundated each spring with applications from perspective freshman.  Dealing with all of these applicants takes an enormous amount of staff time, which of course equates to dollars.  One of the most significant threshold tests colleges apply before investing the time to fully review applications are the ACT or SAT scores of the student applying.  Fail to meet the minimum threshold score and the likelihood is the application will go no further. 


This may make sense from the standpoint of colleges seeking to control both administration costs as well as maintain a high academic standard for new enrollees.  But does it make sense for our nation and economy?


The standardized tests are intended to determine proficiency in several academic disciplines — reading and comprehension, writing, math, science — but what about creativity and an innate ability to think innovatively?  There are simple ways to test for these abilities, but presently the standardized tests in use do not do so. 


The result?  Those students who possess these capabilities may not score that well on the existing tests.  Why?  Because although some naturally born innovators are also highly analytical, others are more 'dreamers' and 'creative types,' who tend not to do well on regimented activities such as standardized tests that focus on minimum threshold achievement.  Both tests are time bound, but the ACT in particular, is a nearly four hour speed marathon, another impediment to many highly creative minds who tend to think more deeply and slowly.  To borrow a line from 'Miracle Max' in that classic movie, 'The Princess Bride,' "You rush a miracle and maybe you get a lousy miracle!"


Although the future innovators who are negatively impacted by these tests may represent only a relatively small number, how many potential Steve Jobs or Steve Wozniaks can we afford to lose?  It's time that the standardized tests incorporate a section that assesses native creativity and the ability to think innovatively, in order to balance out scores more fairly and allow the 'creative dreamers' a chance at a first-rate education. 


The globalization of our economy will continue to accelerate and that means ever increasing competition.  And the looming worldwide economic slowdown that now appears on the horizon, will only exacerbate the competitive ferocity.  We cannot afford to be relegating even a small percentage of our best and brightest innovative minds to either 'no higher education' or a 'second rate one.'


Continuous, open innovation is the only remaining viable hope for businesses to achieve sustained growth and profitability in the future.  We cannot afford to be throwing away any of our innovative talent. 


John Di Frances is an international business strategy consultant, innovation keynote speaker and author of several business books  His latest book is Minding The Giraffes: The People Side of Innovation. 


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