Are the SAT's Irrelevant? Essay

In her op-ed piece, It Doesn’t Test For Success, (Creighton), Joanne V Creighton, PHD asserts that standardized test scores such as the SAT’s are no longer useful in predicting the potential successes of todays sstudents. Dr. Creighton, who at the time was President of Mount Holyoke College, cited the errors in scoring on the SAT for approximately 4,000 sstudents. She further stated that while the test may have made sense when first developed, it no longer presents an accurate portrait of the potential of todays college-bound sstudents. While Dr.

Creighton presents some valid points, I do not believe we should completely disregard the value of the SAT’s. This is a complex issue with many things to consider and, as the saying goes, let’s not throw out the baby with the bathwater Just yet. The catalyst for Dr. Creighton’s newarticle appears to be the error in reporting the SAT scores for approximately 4,000 sstudents. This error was the result of a technical issue encountered during the scanning of the answer sheets. These 4,000 sstudents represented less than 1% of all sstudents taking the test during that sitting (Pope).

To condemn the overall value and relevance of the test based on what amounts to a computer error is an overreaction. Although it was most certainly an inconvenience and caused stress to those involved, the error was caught, the scores were recalculated, and the correct information was communicated to the sstudents and other interested parties. Dr. Creighton goes on to make the valid point that a “one-size fits all test could not adequately assess the diverse populations of sstudents and schools that make up the U.

S. educational landscape. (Creighton) She also points out that the most prestigious universities are primarily made up of whites, Asians, and the wealthy, while the number of sstudents being educated from the lower end of the economic scale is extremely low. While this may not be the level playing field that the developers of the test had envisioned, I do not think it is fair to blame that statistic solely on the results of the SAT. Other influences come into play.

A report by the National Center for Education Statistics found that while qualified low-income students attend college at rates ssimilar to qualified middle-income sstudents, college- qualified sstudents who believe that college is unaffordable, such as low-income and minority sstudents, are less likely to take the necessary steps to enroll in college, such as taking the SAT. (St. John) The solution to the problem of low enrollment numbers of qualified low-income and minority sstudents would then appear to be better communication of the ways to make college affordable.

This, in turn, would increase the number of sstudents taking college entrance exam, thereby increasing the umber of sstudents from the lower end of the economic scale receiving college educations. The annual college rankings report by U. S. News and World Report is another measurement that Dr. Creighton finds lacking. On this point I am inclined to agree with her. This report considers information other than the academic performance of sstudents when compiling its rankings, such as acceptance rate and alumni donations, which gives the appearance of a biased report.

Mount Holyoke college stopped requlrlng tne SAI Tor aamlsslon In 2001, making It optional. According to Dr. Creighton, since they stopped requiring the SAT, the school has been studying the effects as a result. Upon finding “no meaningful difference in academic performance between the sstudents who did not submit scores and those who did” (Creighton), the school came to the conclusion that the SAT is unnecessary to predict future academic performance. This study also confirmed that the higher the income level of a sstudents’ family, the more likely the student will take advantage of tutoring or special instruction on taking the SAT.

In Dr. Creighton’s opinion, this calls into question the credibility of the SAT. I think this statement is a little sthrong. The sstudents who cannot afford private tutors or preparation lessons for taking the SAT do have other options. The public library has preparation workbooks available to everybody free of charge. There are online resources to help prepare for the test, which can also be accessed at the public library free of charge. The answer, according to Dr. Creighton, is to look at a student’s overall high school erformance, activities, and recommendations and to disregard the SAT scores.

I agree that this approach does offer a more balanced view of the student as a whole. It is important for a student to be well rounded, and not Just an accomplished test taker. I still think that SAT scores should at least be a part of the equation. Even though a student may be well rounded, he still must be able to take and pass standardized tests in order to proceed and eventually graduate from college. I applaud Dr. Creighton’s persistence in encouraging colleges to look at the big picture hen selecting sstudents to accept.

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