Sunday, August 2, 2009

Dropping the SATs: the hidden agenda and the underachiever

In an earlier post, I wrote about how eliminating the SAT/ACT requirements for college admissions disadvantages left-brainers, and about the lofty reasons cited by college admissions officials for doing so:

(1) "test scores appear to calcify differences based on class, race/ethnicity and parental educational attainment."
(3) "the contrast between opportunities and fancy suburbs and some of the high schools that aren’t so fancy"
(3) "academic research that suggests that test preparation and coaching results in an increase of 20 to 30 points on the SAT"

An article in this past week's New York Education Life suggests that colleges' actual reasons for dropping standardized tests may not be nearly so lofty:

(1) Doing so raises the number of applicants, allowing schools to claim to be a more selective than previously (even if the overall caliber of your applicants declines).
(2) Doing so raises your average SAT scores (because the students who report their SATs will tend to have higher scores).

Of course, as more and more schools succumb to such temptations, these effects will lessen. Meanwhile, the underachieving, high-testing left-brainer will face fewer and fewer college options.

...Until some colleges wise up and realize that a whole sector of talented students (budding but under-challenged mathematicians, engineers, programmers, and linguists, among others) is out there waiting, desperately, to be tapped.

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