Standardized measures never capture the essence of anything, although they provide dimensions: length, width, and depth – descriptions — but not essence. Tests, grades, and performance measures devoid of dreams and desires are gibberish. Measures are frail rhetoric and detrimental in isolation or abstraction.

“If my future were determined just by my performance on a standardized test, I wouldn’t be here. I guarantee you that.”

Michelle Obama, February 18, 2008.

On August 22, 2013, President Obama shared his plan to tie student aid to performance ratings of colleges, a version of No Child Left Behind (NCLB), maybe with the moniker Fewer Forgotten Freshmen (FFF). Both efforts should be applauded for attempting to squeeze better performance out of educational institutions.

I visit with many families and students about career and study options. An instantaneous, albeit cryptic, analysis of the student’s propensity to perform based on their class rank, ACT score, GPA, and the array of courses taken and many other factors, is carried out. Based on the student’s record and aspirations, community college — to test the waters of challenge, performance, and fit at 15 cents on the dollar — is sometimes recommended.