Aptitude tests may limit students' career options, passions too early
- High schools in Nashville, TN, are now testing 9th-graders’ aptitudes for certain career options, following states including Washington and New Jersey.
- Aptitude tests have been a common measure of career suitability, but they’re starting to fall out of favor: Children who score poorly could decide too early that a certain career path is not for them, according to District Administration, limiting their options just as they're starting out in life.
- Students and educators should instead approach these assessments cautiously, using them to start a conversation about a interests and ambitions rather than viewing them as definitive results. How a student decides what they will do after high school should be a thoughtful process.
Aptitude tests are deeply ingrained in the high school experience. Educators often read the results to guide students on classes to take and even colleges to apply for after they graduate. In states like South Carolina, these assessments start as early as the 8th grade. But interests and strengths can change, certainly for middle schoolers, and even high school students can lack the skills — and maturity — to make longterm career decisions.
Winnowing career choices too early limits a child. Even using these tests to limit what classes a student can take may winnow options for them later in life. Take AP classes, intensive courses which require diligence and hard work to pass: Researchers believe that even if students don’t pass the final test that earns them college credit, the discipline they learn to complete the course is valuable for their future.
Educators should ensure students have the opportunity to lay the groundwork for their future dreams. But children also need to know that changing those dreams is normal. Narrowing their options too early in school and picking curriculum based on assessments taken too young does not allow them the flexibility to find themselves — or their potential passion.
- District Administration Putting career aptitude assessments used in schools to the test