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SLC union president says SAT scores are becoming less important for prospective college students

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BRASHER FALLS - The president of the St. Lawrence Central United Teachers union told board of education members this week that the district should be more concerned about a student’s GPA and overall character, rather than their SAT scores.

“At the last board meeting there were some questions and comments about SAT scores which got me thinking, having just had two children go through that whole process. So I followed up on a couple of hunches and I just wanted to share with you that there are over 850 top tier one and tier two schools that no longer require the SAT,” Christine Compo-Martin said.

“Based on my investigation, most schools are looking at the whole student and they actually find that grade point average is a better indicator of future success than just the SAT,” she said. “So most of the schools are SAT optional at this time and they’re all schools that you would be familiar with.”

Ms. Compo-Martin noted that the last two schools to adopt the policy were Bryn Mawr College and Temple University.

There was also a discussion at July’s board meeting regarding whether teachers and guidance counselors were expressing a desire for students to take the SAT.

“I can answer that question. Yes,” Ms. Compo-Martin said. “We do have a large number of students who are enrolled and very successful in BOCES, but some of them may not see the need to take SATs at this time. Of course, I always try to tell my students, ‘You never know where life is going to take you and it’s better to not close any doors and to keep them all open.’ But some students probably think that that’s not something that they need to worry about at this time and we have a good number of folks who go into the military and they take the ASVAB and are fairly successful with that as well.”

The union president said that the SAT does has some value, but she is worried that some students are viewing themselves as “just a number.”

“I don’t mean to diminish the use of the SAT. It’s a tool and when people are looking at folks it is something that they still do take into consideration. It’s just not a sole indicator any more at this time because they are finding that GPA is a better indicator of future success and more colleges are putting their eggs in that basket and taking a look at extracurriculars, grade point average, community service and that kind of thing,” Ms. Compo-Martin said.

“Along with that, we’re going to be talking a lot about numbers and percentages and scores and that kind of thing. I just would encourage everybody to keep in mind the power of narrative. The story that we tell about ourselves as a community and that we tell about our school and we tell about our students, it’s like anything that we say in front of kids, they hear,” she said.

She said she recently talked with some eighth-grade students who expressed concerns over how their test percentages reflected on them.

“We don’t want to lock them into feeling like they are a number or that number defines them. So I would just hope that whether we’re talking about SATs, or ELA and Math scores, or Regents exams, that we do keep in mind the totality of who we are and what makes us different and make sure that our story is an uplifting story, our narrative is one that gives hope to students and doesn’t put them in a box,” Ms. Compo-Martin said.

Superintendent Stephan J. Vigliotti Sr. said he agreed with Ms. Compo-Martin on some parts of her argument, but also found some minor faults in other areas.

“I agree with Chris that kids (aren’t) a number. But I also respectfully disagree that our kids shouldn’t be talking about this because I definitely think they should be talking about it, and we as adults should be creating a contextual backdrop that makes sense all in the spirit of constant personal improvement, individual improvement and school improvement because that’s what here to do,” Mr. Vigliotti said. “So if we do in fact have kids walking around that are upset about their scores and believe it’s a reflection on (them), I think it’s all of our responsibilities to coach them otherwise.

“By the same token, to just discount it is a mistake because that doesn’t create the type of culture that we want. We want our kids thinking cognitively about their academic progress and constantly improving. We don’t want them making excuses about things.”

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