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I don’t care about your child’s SAT score…

February 8, 2018


I need to be honest with you; I’m less concerned about your (or mine, too) child’s SAT score… or their ACT score…. than I am about the knowledge that he/she acquires by the time they graduate. I know society and the “education industry” says that as a superintendent, I should care more about standardized test scores.  But, I don’t.  I want them to do well; sincerely, I do.  But when we talk about your child – instead of scores, tell me what they are passionate about, what skills you have seen them develop, what challenges they have faced, and how they have worked to overcome them.  Tell me about how they treat others, how hard they work to achieve what is important to them, and how they reach out to help others in need.

Over the last ten years, I have handed out 4,500+ Saline diplomas – a fact that is humbling to me.  When I reflect on all of the students that have walked across that stage, I don’t think about class rank or test scores – I think about the people they are. I share their hopes for happiness and success.

As a school district, we need to comply with state and federal mandates.  Also, it is true that the performance on the SAT/ACT can be the key to opening doors to elite colleges, universities, programs, and even scholarships. However, as a community, we can still focus on what we value as important.  Our student attributes – Collaborative Leader, Ethical & Responsible Citizen, Creative Innovator, Complex Thinker & Problem Solver, Positive Communicator, Globally Connected, Motivated & Self-Directed; these are the characteristics that will allow students to succeed in whatever they choose to pursue after high school.  

Here is the good part…. If we focus on developing students that embody those attributes – they will score just fine on the SAT/ACT.  And even better, these students will be prepared to grow, overcome adversity, and possess the confidence that they will need to thrive in a global society.


10 Comments leave one →
  1. Steven Sheldon permalink
    February 8, 2018 8:58 am

    Dr. Graden I couldn’t agree more. Well said.

  2. February 8, 2018 2:38 pm

    Reblogged this on Cheynoea's Thoughts and commented:
    I am deeply humbled by Mr. Graden’s words and thoughts in this blog post. I agree with his direction and am deeply grateful to be a part of this wonderful community. More educators need to take this approach.

    There is only one thing I would add to this equation, teaching our youth to follow their dreams and choose a career they love. It is proven time and time again that if a person loves what they are doing as a career, they are more successful at it and in all of their pursuits.

    The education system is flawed and has been for years. We teach things that are unnecessary to actual daily life and true to the careers or fields children choose. Not everyone needs advanced calculus or to learn about scientific methods. Instead, the focus needs to be taking these ideas that Mr. Graden talks about in this article and fine-tuning a course of study to the individual student to help them get a jumpstart on their chosen profession.

    Kudos to you Mr. Graden.

    • Jessica Roles permalink
      February 11, 2018 9:07 am

      Completely agree!

  3. February 8, 2018 2:41 pm

    Kudos Mr. Graden. I have reblogged this article adding my own thoughts. 😀

  4. Delphanie Wu permalink
    February 8, 2018 4:45 pm

    I love this! As an honored ’14 Saline grad, I am so much more thankful for the skills SHS gave me than the numbers that were churned out of me. Given, my scores were great and did open doors, but it was my training in being self-motivated, collaborative, determined, ambitious, and innovative in growing and learning that moved me through college and now into graduate school.

  5. Debra Burton permalink
    February 8, 2018 8:32 pm

    I tell my boys all the time that they need to learn for life and not just for the test. Thank you Scot for saying this!!

  6. Ty Tessmer permalink
    February 8, 2018 11:18 pm

    Hi Scott- great message! FYI typo in first sentence “I less concerned…”. Probably meant I’m…

  7. February 9, 2018 1:01 pm

    Thanks Scot, you always bring a healthy and reasoned thinking to the role of educators and education

  8. David E. Phillips, PhD permalink
    February 9, 2018 3:40 pm


    I came across your article and whole heartedly support your point of view. Since serving on the Design Team the last few months of my time with SAS, I have developed a sense of “have the end in mind” as a means for designing educational experiences that are effective but more so meaningful. The qualities and skills you describe (Exit Outcomes back in the day), are the guide posts for experiences students can develop and mature.

    I have a hypothesis that some day folks will look back and say we were “nuts” for spending so much time, focus and money on standardized tests. I spent some time with Robert Marzano the past few years. On one visit I asked if authentic experiences backed by by standards would support success on standardized tests. I was on the edge of my seat for his answer.

    Marzano, “Absolutely…and I have research to prove it.”

    I was affirmed in my beliefs!

    Keep preaching the “word” and keeping Saline Schools a district a place for dynamic learning.

    If you would like to continue the discussion some day, let me know.


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