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An Argument Against the SATs

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One test cannot determine how smart a student is or how well they will do in college. "What it measures is how well you take the SAT," says Robert Schaeffer of Fair Test. “The SAT does not test school performance; it measures how well somebody performs on a standardized test. Isn't it time we challenge students to develop creativity? Wouldn't a better predictor of school performance be how motivated a student is to perform in school, rather than how well they do on a standardized test? Doesn't it make more sense to evaluate how resourceful a student will be? The SAT should be abolished as a deciding factor, for college admission. It is a poor indicator of school performance, because test performance does not measure school performance. There are many factors that shape how well somebody does in school. Don't make the SAT one of them,” says Tammy Stoner, a straight-A college graduate.

SAT scores do not measure up to the rest of a student’s academic performance. “I agree that the education system is entirely based on standardized testing as a measure of success. There are so many other ways of assessment. Many students do not do well on standardized tests. It is very important that educators know that students are learning. I do believe that some testing is necessary. But as a teacher who administers the SAT for third graders, I can see the drawbacks,” states Becky Longshore, an elementary educator of seventeen years.

One standard test cannot determine how well a student will do in college. A study performed by Alexander W. Astin suggests that using SAT scores to predict who will graduate resulted in 3.2% of perfect prediction for men and 2.9% for women. This means that for over 95% of the cases, random selection would predict the odds of remaining in school as well as the SAT. Whether or not the student will succeed in college, receive good or bad grades, drop out of college or graduate can be predicted with a low degree of accuracy.



Another argument shows that the SAT consistently under-predicts the performance of women, African-Americans, Hispanics, people whose first language isn't English and generally anyone who's not a good test-taker. It is widely known that Hispanics and African-American score worse that whites and Asian-Americans, but how much worse? The results are astounding. According to a poll done by the College Board in 1997-1998, Asian- Americans (560) on average, score 137 points higher than African-Americans (432) do and 92 points higher than Hispanics (468) do out of a possible 800 points. Whites score a 526 on math, 34 points lower than Asians, but still significantly higher than blacks and Hispanics. In verbal, whites lead with a 526, and Asians, who are expected to struggle on the verbal section, still score a 496 as compared to the Hispanics 466 and Blacks 434.

The other people at loss are those who can not afford to take SAT Prep classes or access the test preparation material. Not only do the children of the wealthy score unusually high on the SAT, they also have, by virtue of their wealth, increased access to test preparation materials and coaching schools. The FTC investigation found that those candidates who had taken advantage of coaching were heavily concentrated in the upper income brackets: In 1978, 41% of the coached students came from the top income bracket of $30,000 or more. As Owen said of Princeton Review students, “[They] simply don't take the same test.... The effect would be the same if ETS randomly selected a thousand white, wealthy students each year, gave them the answers to the SAT in advance, and then denied that it had done so.”

In conclusion, the SATs do not test a student’s academic performance, cannot predict how well they will do in college, under-predicts the performance of certain races and is at loss for those who cannot afford the preparation to take the SATs.





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