By Matt Lukshaitis Pine River Area Schools Superintendent One of our current phrases in education today is, \u201ccollege and career ready.\u201d\u00a0We use this terminology as a result of ACT testing. The ACT folks\u00a0will tell you that a college and career ready cut score in any particular year\u00a0means, that in that state, a certain score should reflect a 50 percent or better chance of\u00a0a student earning a \u201cB\u201d or better in the freshman level course in that area. In\u00a0English, for example, the ACT benchmark score is an 18. If a high school\u00a0student cuts an 18 or better on the ACT English test, he or she should expect a\u00a050 percent or higher chance at earning a \u201cB\u201d or higher in English 101. In math, the\u00a0benchmark is 22; in reading, 22; in science, 23. College and career readiness\u00a0now, somehow, has morphed into an interpretation that a student has to meet\u00a0these benchmarks in all four of these areas to qualify as ready for post-secondary instruction or a career following high school. But these are not typical scores. Rarer still is the student who meets these\u00a0minimums in all four areas. In Michigan, 21 percent of all students\u00a0tested in 2013 and 2014 were deemed college and career ready in all four\u00a0areas. The label is confusing. Using this type of language seems to beg the reader or\u00a0receiver of this information to believe that failure to achieve these minimum\u00a0scores in all four areas is condemning. The results over the years, of watching\u00a0kids test, demonstrates to me this is simply not true. We should be focusing on\u00a0which areas we do well on in order to guide students toward a career or college,\u00a0not focusing on an assumed impossibility to graduate from college because of a\u00a0lesser score in an area or two. Most students tend to do better on either the\u00a0sciences (math and science) or the humanities (English and reading) when taking college entrance exams. Writers of standardized tests\u00a0may not want us to talk about test results in this manner, but I would contend that\u00a0therein lies the problem. There are no bad tests; there are, however, poor uses\u00a0of data. The emphasis on testing better, on increasing student achievement scores or\u00a0facing consequences is contrary to positive principles of motivation. We know\u00a0that success breeds success, yet standardized tests seem to promote fear of\u00a0reprisals. There is no place in public education for this type of fear. At Pine\u00a0River, we are here to help all kids succeed, not just students on track in all four\u00a0areas of the ACT to earn a \u201cB\u201d or better as college freshmen. When I hear what\u00a0sounds like an ultimatum from the Michigan Department of Education concerning\u00a0test scores, I get excited and protective of my district. Educators can use data to help students prepare for college or a career after high school. What we should not do is overreact to standardize testing. We should not run from testing, but we should plan a strategy to best use test scores. At Pine River, we too use the college and career ready terminology. When we say this at PRAS, we are thinking about kids and life after high school. Not test scores. We are here to help kids read, listen, compute, write and speak. We are here to help them emotionally, intellectually, physically and socially. At the end of the day, we want to produce citizens who are ready for life after high school, not the next standardized test. I have some news for the test writers: there is no bigger or more important test than life itself. As a father and an educator, I think we should pay attention to labels like college and career ready a little bit less, and pay attention to our kids and who they are a little bit more.