The Proficiency Profile

multiple choice answer sheet for a testimage courtesy of albertogp123 at http://www.flickr.com/photos/albertogp123/5843577306/sizes/z/in/photostream/

ETS, the same fine people who bring you the SAT, also have other standardized tests. A popular one for the college crowd is now called the Proficiency Profile, and it’s used to measure how proficient students are in so-called general education areas: math, writing, reading, and critical thinking. Some schools even use this exam to demonstrate that their teacher preparation programs give students a sound background.

You can read more about the test here: http://www.ets.org/proficiencyprofile/about/content/

The results of the 2003-2004 test, which was given at hundreds of schools (including Prairie View A&M), found the following:

  • Eight percent of college seniors are “proficient” at level 3 math (the highest level), up from 5 percent of freshmen
  • Eleven percent of college seniors are “proficient” at level 3 writing
  • Six percent of college seniors are “proficient” in critical thinking, while 77 percent are “not proficient”

What’s going on here? Is the test just ridiculously hard? Go to http://www.ets.org/s/proficiencyprofile/pdf/sampleques.pdf and examine the 4 pages of sample questions.

The Proficiency Profile is one of just three standardized exams considered reliable in measuring student learning outcomes: skills expected of people who finish a particular class or program. This is what employers expect from college graduates, that you can perform basic mathematical calculations; examine an article you’ve never seen before and identify any errors in logic; write grammatically correct sentences…

Colleges usually want to see a high school GPA and SAT or ACT test scores for admissions; they require certain minimums, too. What if an employer wanted to see your Proficiency Profile or required at least level 2 proficiency to even apply for a job?

Works Cited

College Learning for the New Global Century. Association of American Colleges and Universities. 2007. Web. 2 Sep. 2011.

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