Fashionable Iowa?

By Ryan Fisher. 

I was born and raised in the state of Wisconsin. I would say that, other than it being cold a good portion of the year, Wisconsin was a nice place to grow up. We certainly had our own culture, often centered on dairy based food products, as well as deep passions for Wisconsin college and professional sports teams. Iowa is a neighboring state of Wisconsin. As I think back to my childhood and my thoughts at that time about Iowa, I am certain of one thing…We didn’t look to the state of Iowa for, well, for anything really.

Yet here we are in 2015, and in the world of standardized tests, the stylish East and West coasts of the USA have decided that Iowa is…fashionable? Are you completely confused? Yeah, well so am I!! To assist us all, let me give you a little background.

The ACT was created in 1959 by Everett Franklin Lindquist, a professor at the University of Iowa. The ACT is also still headquartered in Iowa City, IA. For many, many years, the ACT was the preferred test of most of the states in Middle America. When I was in high school in Wisconsin, I took both the ACT and the SAT. However, this was quite rare. I was the only student in my graduating class who took the SAT. Over 80% took the ACT.

The coastal states have been the last holdouts, preferring the SAT to the ACT. That preference, however, is definitely shifting. Many of you right here in California have even decided that the ACT is the best test for your college application. And you are hardly alone. In 2007, 99% of applicants to Harvard submitted SAT scores. By 2012 that number was down to 90%. With the upcoming change in the format of the SAT, by 2017 that number could be under 70%.

So for the time being, maybe Iowa simply needs to stand tall and feel proud. Those of us in the Midwest often felt like we were the last ones in the country to know what was popular or fashionable. But when it comes to the ACT and SAT, as more and more Californians and New Yorkers mimic the choice of their peers in Wisconsin and Illinois, it is clear that the Midwest wasn’t last. It was actually first. Fashionable Iowa, indeed!

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