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July 3 2018

What's Behind the War on the SAT and ACT?

by Charlotte Hays

The high-powered University of Chicago is the most recent convert to the fashionable movement to drop ACT and SAT scores from college admissions process.  What's behind the war on test scores?

First, it relies on this idea (as described in a Wall Street Journal editorial yesterday):

That standardized metrics of any kind are discriminatory and elitist, and that each student is so special that he or she can only be evaluated according to uniquely personal traits.

The only problem with the Specialness Theory is that these two under-attack tests are actually extremely useful:

No test is perfect, but the ACT and SAT are powerful predictors of college performance. As psychology professors Nathan Kuncel and Paul Sackett wrote in The Wall Street Journal in March: “Longitudinal research demonstrates that standardized tests predict not just grades all the way through college but also the level of courses a student is likely to take.”

Standardized tests are especially important in a time of severe grade inflation, especially in more affluent high schools. That doesn’t mean students who don’t test well can’t succeed, or that students with high scores are guaranteed to graduate summa cum laude. But it’s clear scores are at least as valid a predictor of college performance as a students’ roster of carefully selected extracurricular activities or “personal essays,” which may be rewritten by tutors.

My bolding.

Scraping admissions tests will help with two unspoken goals: schools that discriminate against Asian students, who often have high scores, will be able to conceal this bias more easily, and, without test scores, it will be easier to overlook the deficient educations a lot of American kids receive at lousy, low-performing schools:

What really gives students an advantage on tests, in addition to studying hard and reading widely, is attending a good school and having parents who value education. On that score, when will leading college admissions offices become a voice for changing the status quo in poorly performing urban public schools? Simply scrapping an admissions requirement won’t make students from disadvantaged backgrounds more prepared.

Eliminating test scores won't promote diversity.

But it will allow us to hide unpleasant truths, and one of theser unpleasant truths is the inequality created by poor educations.

Up next: move to eliminate grades in admissions process.

Independent Women's Forum is an educational 501(c)(3) dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities. IWF is the sister organization of the Independent Women’s Voice.​
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