Monday, April 30, 2012


"A whale ship was my Yale college and my Harvard" ~ Herman Melville

Did you hear that some kid stole the ACT tests at a Denver high school?  What is up with THAT?

One of the "subjects" I tutor is test prep.  One of the tests I prep people for is the ACT.  This was actually the thing that caused the surprise from my student last week.  He and I had spent about 6 weeks preparing him for his ACT.  Every high school junior in Colorado takes the ACT whether they plan to go to college or not.  The state uses it as its assessment for juniors.

It's all been said and done, and now I just tutor him in math.  He thinks he did okay, and he knows that Wolfgang took the same test he took. 

"How'd your son do?", he asked

"He said he thinks he did well, at least he finished everything", I said then added, "I didn't really give him any coaching".

"What?!?  B...b...but... that's what you DO?!", he flabbergassed.

Yes, it's ONE of the things I do.  When someone asks. 

Truth is, I wish kids didn't stress so much over their test scores.  Or in some cases, it's the parents that are stressing.   And I do understand it a bit in the cases of students or athletes that are targetting a specific program at a specific university.

But I knew that Wolfgang had a handle on things.  He actually did ask for some coaching for the science section as it was the one that gave him troubles when he took a practice test a couple of months ago.  We spent about an hour lowering his anxiety the weekend before the test.

But to think that some kid would break into the school and steal the tests in order to.... what?  Buy more time?  Get a payoff from some other kids wanting to buy more time?  Just see if he could pull it off? 

Some tutor cohorts and I were discussing the whole pressure aspect for high school kids to get into a "good" college.  We were all pretty much in agreement that where one goes to college often isn't all THAT important. 

One guy noted that whom we marry plays a larger role than where we go to college in how our adult lives turn out.  I would agree with that, and I pondered.  I'm pretty happy with how my adult life has turned out.  I guess it's good I married Magnum...

whom I met in college. 

Okay, now I'm confused.


  1. I hadn't heard that, but I'm not surprised. I'm curious about his reasons behind it as well.
    I've never been in favor of using test scores as a way to judge a person's intellect. After teaching a variety of kids, all with different learning styles, and after raising 4 totally different kids of my own, I know that a test result doesn't necessarily indicate intelligence. That said, I also know they have to have some kind of assessment... so what do you do?
    I kinda agree with the "whom we marry" reasoning. I KNOW I would be a totally different person if I had married my first fiance' instead of my hubby of 21 years. But perhaps it's a college education AND a successful, supportive spouse that makes the difference. :)

  2. I aced tests, but failed marriage. Hmm...? Have you heard about parents holding their kids back from kindergarten so they'll excel amongst their classmates? And now kids take their phones to class to look up answers during tests, and they pay someone else to take tests for them, and, and, and. The world is going to hell, and kids aren't learning the right values about learning. I'll shut up now :) Love your grasshopper!

  3. Just saw a Dateline special yesterday on kids and the pressure to cheat. It's too easy and it becomes difficult to continue standing up to the peer pressure. I think they said something like 85% of all kids have cheated at some point in time.

    Sometimes I think there IS too much pressure on kids these days. Succeed. Be the smartest one. Make lots of money. Be famous and respected. That's why I try to remember to remind my kids periodically... find something that makes you happy. Money and recognition? They're nice, but they can't buy happiness.

  4. I hadn't heard that theft, but, given the way some people look to get an edge or make a buck, I am not surprised. Just not sure what you'd do with all those ACT scores? Sell them on the nearest college corner? Maybe he/she didn't like their score and wanted to mess with everyone else.

    You're right that the parents tend to stress more than the students. Maybe that's because we don't want them to turn out like us. And sometimes, we marry the one we deserve.

  5. You sound like a great tutor. There is far too much pressure on kids these days. My older son has friends who are being pushed far too hard, and some are showing signs of burnout at 17-18!

    We let our children decide what they want most of the time, and it seems to work. Our over-riding guidance is that life is short, sometimes very short, so whatever you do make sure you are happy doing it.

  6. I agree with the above posters. There is just too much pressure on students these days. It doesn't justify a student resorting to cheating, but you can definitely understand why they might :x.