For nearly ten years, I worked at ACT Inc.—one of the two major college entrance exam companies. Back then, as Director of Writing and Communications Assessments, I helped develop the tests.
In 2014, ACT began conducting field studies for its upcoming, revamped Writing Exam. We piloted our new test at a number of high schools around the country, including Sunnyside High School in Tucson, Arizona. Interviewing the bright young students there—eager to get to college, many from low-income households, mostly Latino/a and Native American—I came face-to-face with the reality that the kinds of tests ACT and SAT have been pushing for nearly 60 years are NEVER going to help the kids who need help most. In fact, I found a kind of anti-education at work—standardized testing itself was teaching these students to hate writing and to do it poorly, if they had to do it at all.
Flash forward to 2018. Bit by bit, my wife, Becky, and I have been building a company, BetterRhetor, dedicated to giving kids like those at Sunnyside—and all over the country—a better chance at college entrance and college success.
Now we’re working to close the college-readiness gap for good. For REAL.
Our goal is to change the whole landscape. No more outmoded, unfair standardized admissions exams. No more teaching to the test. No more reliance on the same flawed approach that has failed students and their families for decades.
We believe that every student who aspires to a college education should get the kind of authentic instruction and assessment that will actually help them succeed—no matter their income or background.
A sea change is achievable, but we need substantial, grassroots support to pull it off. The ACT and SAT teach nothing and predict nothing—yet these two tests currently determine the educational futures of 2 million students each year. The two companies behind the tests enjoy not-for-profit tax status, but rake in billions in revenue and pay huge salaries to their executives. . . while students and their families are stuck with the bill for test prep, testing fees, and other associated costs.
Students incur an additional $1.5 billion yearly in remediation costs once they arrive at college and discover that they’re unprepared for college-level academics. Clearly, something is not working the way it should.
BetterRhetor is developing an innovative, long overdue alternative. Please consider contributing whatever amount is possible for you to help us create it. Funds from this GoFundMe will go directly to helping our company build the game-changing online platform we envision.
Our Ready-For-Real™ Web-Based Platform will deliver to pre-college students and classrooms:
1) effective college-readiness instruction;
2) authentic college-readiness assessment; and
3) a better way to connect students with colleges that believe in them.
The platform’s online modules in Writing and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) are specifically designed to close the gap between high school and college instruction. They’re built on solid research, organized around student-driven extended projects, and designed to slot readily into existing courses and programs.
You can read more about my own journey from Sunnyside to today on my blog post, “Welcome to the Sausage Factory.”
Here’s the place Becky & I now call home—Prescott, Arizona. That visit to Sunnyside High School changed our lives in so many positive ways. We’re determined to return the favor.
Thank you for helping us out!
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