Wasn’t This the Purpose of Standardized Tests for College Admissions?

 

Dartmouth College is reinstating standardized tests (the SAT) as part of the admissions process.

Forbes.

National Review (I think this is outside the paywall).

The reinstatement comes after a study by Dartmouth faculty (re)discovered that standardized tests are a way to discover capable students who did not get high grades at high schools in privileged towns.

As reported in the Forbes article:

[The faculty study] concluded that: “high school grades paired with standardized testing are the most reliable indicators for success in Dartmouth’s course of study.” This conclusion echoes statements published recently in The New York Times’ far-ranging evaluation of the SAT. The article notes that standardized test scores tend to be a better metric for predicting success in college than grade point average, quoting M.I.T. Dean of Admission Stuart Schmill: “Just getting straight A’s is not enough information for us to know whether the students are going to succeed or not.”

More from the Dartmouth announcement, as reported in the Forbes article:

Contrary to pandemic-era assumptions about the potential of standardized testing to exacerbate inequalities in the admissions process, the Dartmouth study further added that: “these test scores better position Admissions to identify high-achieving less-advantaged applicants and high-achieving applicants who attend high schools for which Dartmouth has less information to interpret the transcripts.” Researchers found that test-optional policies unintentionally created a barrier for less advantaged students due to the fact that such students often opted against submitting their scores, even when those scores would benefit their application and demonstrate their preparedness for Dartmouth’s rigorous curriculum.

To which this old man (high school class of 1974) says, “Duh! Finding high potential students coming from other-than-elite high schools was the point of looking at standardized testing in the middle of the 20th Century.”

Standardized tests were pushed when I was in school as a tool of equalization for ethnic minority students and students from less-known high schools in rural and inner city areas to show that they were capable of study at highly regarded colleges and universities. They were a tool to increase what colleges and universities now call “diversity.” Previously those colleges and universities admitted students almost exclusively from high schools with which the college or university was already familiar and thus could gauge what the student’s grade point average meant.

Hence I never understood the drive in the late 2010s to eliminate from college admissions processes the standardized test, due to their somehow contributing to inequality for ethnic minority or economically disadvantaged students. Those were exactly the students the standardized tests were benefitting in the 1960s and 1970s. One of the reasons I am “conservative” is that I often find that the people and organizations which chase the latest fad seem to come back to the place from which they started many decades earlier. Some supposedly very smart people seem to keep learning the same thing over and over.

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  1. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Next they’ll discover that children do best in homes with both parents, a married mother and father.

    • #1
  2. EODmom Coolidge
    EODmom
    @EODmom

    I guess Dartmouth found that admitting students who couldn’t complete even the easiest of first year work meant their % graduating dropped by a lot and % returning after first year even more. There isn’t enough remedial work or empty courses to get some of the admitted to get close to success. 

    • #2
  3. Ekosj Member
    Ekosj
    @Ekosj

    What’s the old adage…

    Don’t tear down the wall until you know why it was built in the first place.

    • #3
  4. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Ask the people who grew up coping with the old “new math” what they think of the new “new math.”

    • #4
  5. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    Ekosj (View Comment):

    What’s the old adage…

    Don’t tear down the wall until you know why it was built in the first place.

    A lot of recognition follows the discarding of the testing regimens established in the mid-twentieth century of what it means to be conservative. Retain and spend money on what is proven to work until the new stuff shows that necessary quality.

    I think the damage we will see from the climate change movement and resulting energy and environmental policies will dwarf what the Democrats and RINOs have done to education. A RINO is someone who pretends to be conservative.

    EDIT: I hold  this position because I don’t believe the data presented in support of these movements is truthful, factual, and accurate in its conclusions.

    • #5
  6. Paul Stinchfield Member
    Paul Stinchfield
    @PaulStinchfield

    Full Size Tabby: Hence I never understood the drive in the late 2010s to eliminate from college admissions processes the standardized test as somehow contributing to inequity for ethnic minority or economically disadvantaged students. Those were exactly the students the standardized tests were benefitting in the 1960s and 1970s.

    SAT test scores were not bringing in enough minority students, therefore there had to be something wrong (racist) with those tests. The “equality of results” chimera is behind a wide variety of stupid and destructive polices, but the Left doesn’t care about the harm done because everything they do is driven by delusions which they will never give up (and if you point out how they are wrong, then you are someone who should be destroyed.)

    • #6
  7. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Full Size Tabby: [The faculty study] concluded that: “high school grades paired with standardized testing are the most reliable indicators for success in Dartmouth’s course of study.”

    No s**t, Sherlock!  You don’t need a study, just common sense . . .

    • #7
  8. DonG (CAGW is a Scam) Coolidge
    DonG (CAGW is a Scam)
    @DonG

    The University of Texas does something interesting.  They  admit any kid that finishes in the top 6% of their graduating class.  The 6% number varies a little bit to cover 75% of admits.   This lets the smartest kids in a school that is not very competitive try their luck in the big leagues.   The rest of the admits come from kids with good test scores and special skills (think Longhorns, Inc.).   This leads to a lot of kids (5000+) getting in over their heads, but it also finds a lot of diamonds in the rough.   It does not depend on race or grade inflation or anything besides relative performance in a particular school.

    • #8
  9. Roderic Coolidge
    Roderic
    @rhfabian

    Standardized tests are increasingly necessary since grades in prep schools and high schools are meaningless, that is, they don’t predict which students will do well in college.

    Standardized test scores correlate very well with future achievement, grades, and even future incomes.

    Those concerned about diversity can do it the way the armed forces do it, I suppose, that is, use a standardized test to provide a cutoff of the top 50% of students.   All students who make the cut ought to do well in an average college regardless of race, class, etc., providing they were at least conscientious enough to graduate from high school.

    Students who have low SAT scores are those who are unlikely to get any good out of college, so it’s important.  It does a student no kindness to saddle them with a lot of debt when they are unlikely to graduate.

    SAT scores can provide guidance for choice of schools.  Students who would not do well at, say, MIT might do well at schools further down in the rankings.  I, myself, am a case in point.  Had I matriculated at MIT I’d have sunk like a stone because I didn’t have enough math knowledge.  I did very well at a school where, for example, the first-year physics course is taught with pre-calculus math, unlike MIT.

    • #9
  10. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    Roderic (View Comment):

    SAT scores can provide guidance for choice of schools.  Students who would not do well at, say, MIT might do well at schools further down in the rankings.  I, myself, am a case in point.  Had I matriculated at MIT I’d have sunk like a stone because I didn’t have enough math knowledge.  I did very well at a school where, for example, the first-year physics course is taught with pre-calculus math, unlike MIT.

    This is where affirmative action policies of the top-rated universities did a disservice to high performing minority students by lowering standards that then kept those minorities at levels above where they were competitive with peers. 

    • #10
  11. Doug Watt Member
    Doug Watt
    @DougWatt

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    Roderic (View Comment):

    SAT scores can provide guidance for choice of schools. Students who would not do well at, say, MIT might do well at schools further down in the rankings. I, myself, am a case in point. Had I matriculated at MIT I’d have sunk like a stone because I didn’t have enough math knowledge. I did very well at a school where, for example, the first-year physics course is taught with pre-calculus math, unlike MIT.

    This is where affirmative action policies of the top-rated universities did a disservice to high performing minority students by lowering standards that then kept those minorities at levels above where they were competitive with peers.

    Not just minority students. Our son only had one incorrect answer on the SAT exam. He had no problem with the academic demands at the university level. There were plenty of students both minority and non-minority students that left his school before the end of their freshman year that came from schools that got grades that were no more than gifts rather than earned.

    • #11
  12. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    Doug Watt (View Comment):

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    Roderic (View Comment):

    SAT scores can provide guidance for choice of schools. Students who would not do well at, say, MIT might do well at schools further down in the rankings. I, myself, am a case in point. Had I matriculated at MIT I’d have sunk like a stone because I didn’t have enough math knowledge. I did very well at a school where, for example, the first-year physics course is taught with pre-calculus math, unlike MIT.

    This is where affirmative action policies of the top-rated universities did a disservice to high performing minority students by lowering standards that then kept those minorities at levels above where they were competitive with peers.

    Not just minority students. Our son only had one incorrect answer on the SAT exam. He had no problem with the academic demands at the university level. There were plenty of students both minority and non-minority students that left his school before the end of their freshman year that came from schools that got grades that were no more than gifts rather than earned.

    Some of this goes back as far as the 1950s before any of the civil rights laws, affirmative action, and even the SATs were in existence.

    I entered Georgia Tech in 1956 when it was still white only by law and the SATs were brand new. Tech was a state-chartered school and I don’t know what entry standard they used but I have heard it was something like a B average in high school for in-state students, maybe different for others. When I entered my freshman class I soon found out that many people thought 3 quarters of English literature composed of required readings and essay writing, much of that required to be done in a class period so no cheating, was the method of culling those who could not perform at the required standard. The sophomore class was much smaller than the freshman  class.

    • #12
  13. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Full Size Tabby: One of the reasons I am “conservative” is how often I find that people and organizations that chase the latest fad seem to come back to the place from which they started many decades earlier. Some supposedly very smart people seem to keep learning the same thing over and over. 

    This is pretty common in many areas, even a lower-level convenience-store manager might think they need to “shake things up” in order to show their value and justify their hiring.  If things were working just fine before, why hire THEM rather than someone else?  Or maybe just keep the old person rather than replace them.

    Where this problem causes the most damage is likely education.  When each Education Degree holder – and not just the Ed.Ds! – has their own pet theory (and may have written a dissertation) on how best to teach the Little Ones, and then tries it out on actual people, that’s a problem.

    • #13
  14. Old Bathos Member
    Old Bathos
    @OldBathos

    But what if this leads to actual grading, exams, rankings, and all of the other racist, sexist trappings of a fascist meritocracy? Isn’t the notion of a “right answer” or “competence” exactly how the white patriarchal power structure is sustained?  Dartmouth is beyond problematic in this turning back-the-clock thing they are doing.

     

    • #14
  15. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male
    @MiffedWhiteMale

    Old Bathos (View Comment):

    But what if this leads to actual grading, exams, rankings, and all of the other racist, sexist trappings of a fascist meritocracy? Isn’t the notion of a “right answer” or “competence” exactly how the white patriarchal power structure is sustained? Dartmouth is beyond problematic in this turning back-the-clock thing they are doing.

     

    Next they’ll be wanting students to show up to class on time.

     

    • #15
  16. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Miffed White Male (View Comment):

    Old Bathos (View Comment):

    But what if this leads to actual grading, exams, rankings, and all of the other racist, sexist trappings of a fascist meritocracy? Isn’t the notion of a “right answer” or “competence” exactly how the white patriarchal power structure is sustained? Dartmouth is beyond problematic in this turning back-the-clock thing they are doing.

     

    Next they’ll be wanting students to show up to class on time.

     

    Or at all!

    • #16
  17. Headedwest Coolidge
    Headedwest
    @Headedwest

    In a way I’m an example of the usefulness of standardized testing. I went to a small rural high school that didn’t have any advanced courses or other resources; my guidance counselor told me my SAT scores were high enough to apply to a prominent university; I got accepted and subsequently graduated.

    Later in life I decided to try for a PhD. I didn’t come from the normal pipeline to the PhD program but I nailed the GRE and that’s what got me in.

    Later I served on an acceptance committee; the experienced members told us newbies that grades and recommendations can be and are gamed, so look at the test scores first. It was good advice.

    • #17
  18. Full Size Tabby Member
    Full Size Tabby
    @FullSizeTabby

    Stad (View Comment):

    Full Size Tabby: [The faculty study] concluded that: “high school grades paired with standardized testing are the most reliable indicators for success in Dartmouth’s course of study.”

    No s**t, Sherlock! You don’t need a study, just common sense . . .

    It’s impressive how often common sense seems lacking among the supposedly smart set. 

    [A long-ago episode at our church was a bunch of us husbands were discussing some common sense conclusion about husband / wife relations reached in an expensive study. We agreed we could have told them the common sense conclusion for the price of a box of donuts.]

    • #18
  19. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):

    Stad (View Comment):

    Full Size Tabby: [The faculty study] concluded that: “high school grades paired with standardized testing are the most reliable indicators for success in Dartmouth’s course of study.”

    No s**t, Sherlock! You don’t need a study, just common sense . . .

    It’s impressive how often common sense seems lacking among the supposedly smart set.

    [A long-ago episode at our church was a bunch of us husbands were discussing some common sense conclusion about husband / wife relations reached in an expensive study. We agreed we could have told them the common sense conclusion for the price of a box of donuts.]

    Intellectuals…

     

    • #19
  20. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    I don’t take the SATs on the verbal side too seriously as being accurate predictors of verbal intelligence. The value of the test starts with the test writers. The flaw in most multiple-choice verbal tests–IQ, aptitude, and achievement–is how they are constructed.

    Test writers include two answers that are not even in the ballpark of the correct answer. But the remaining two are (1) the answer that is correct and (2) the answer that is nearly correct. It’s the nearly correct answer where test writers run into trouble. In about a quarter of the questions I’ve ever looked at, it’s so close to what they are looking for that it really could be correct (and in some contexts it actually is). These tests need very critical editors.

    What that means is that, yes, on the verbal side, we’re picking up a lot of smart kids in underperforming schools, and that’s a great thing, but we’re also demoralizing and missing some kids who are really smart.

    I think that over the course of my lifetime, the humanities in general have not advanced as much as the sciences. I have to wonder if we are losing some really smart kids at the SAT, IQ, and achievement testing point of student assessment.

    • #20
  21. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Old Bathos (View Comment):
    Isn’t the notion of a “right answer” or “competence” exactly how the white patriarchal power structure is sustained?

    It’s also what keeps the bridges from collapsing.

    • #21
  22. GlennAmurgis Coolidge
    GlennAmurgis
    @GlennAmurgis

    being on the left means you have to learn the same thing over and over again.

    In 15 years, someone will get the bright idea to eliminate SAT scores at Dartmouth. (rinse and repeat).

     

     

    • #22
  23. Randy Weivoda Moderator
    Randy Weivoda
    @RandyWeivoda

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):
    I think the damage we will see from the climate change movement and resulting energy and environmental policies will dwarf what the Democrats and RINOs have done to education. A RINO is someone who pretends to be conservative.

    Who are the RINOs who oppose standardized tests for college admissions?  I have heard about various people on the far left opposing them, but I hadn’t heard there there were Republicans standing with them.

    • #23
  24. DaveSchmidt Coolidge
    DaveSchmidt
    @DaveSchmidt

    Percival (View Comment):

    Ask the people who grew up coping with the old “new math” what they think of the new “new math.”

    Or, as the most recent graduates of our teacher training programs describe it, racist math.

    • #24
  25. DaveSchmidt Coolidge
    DaveSchmidt
    @DaveSchmidt

    MarciN (View Comment):

    I don’t take the SATs on the verbal side too seriously as being accurate predictors of verbal intelligence. The value of the test starts with the test writers. The flaw in most multiple-choice verbal tests–IQ, aptitude, and achievement–is how they are constructed.

    Test writers include two answers that are not even in the ballpark of the correct answer. But the remaining two are (1) the answer that is correct and (2) the answer that is nearly correct. It’s the nearly correct answer where test writers run into trouble. In about a quarter of the questions I’ve ever looked at, it’s so close to what they are looking for that it really could be correct (and in some contexts it actually is). These tests need very critical editors.

    What that means is that, yes, on the verbal side, we’re picking up a lot of smart kids in underperforming schools, and that’s a great thing, but we’re also demoralizing and missing some kids who are really smart.

    I think that over the course of my lifetime, the humanities in general have not advanced as much as the sciences. I have to wonder if we are losing some really smart kids at the SAT, IQ, and achievement testing point of student assessment.

    And “science” has run off the rails. 

    • #25
  26. DaveSchmidt Coolidge
    DaveSchmidt
    @DaveSchmidt

    Miffed White Male (View Comment):

    Old Bathos (View Comment):

    But what if this leads to actual grading, exams, rankings, and all of the other racist, sexist trappings of a fascist meritocracy? Isn’t the notion of a “right answer” or “competence” exactly how the white patriarchal power structure is sustained? Dartmouth is beyond problematic in this turning back-the-clock thing they are doing.

     

    Next they’ll be wanting students to show up to class on time.

    And sober. 

    • #26
  27. DaveSchmidt Coolidge
    DaveSchmidt
    @DaveSchmidt

    DaveSchmidt (View Comment):

    Miffed White Male (View Comment):

    Old Bathos (View Comment):

    But what if this leads to actual grading, exams, rankings, and all of the other racist, sexist trappings of a fascist meritocracy? Isn’t the notion of a “right answer” or “competence” exactly how the white patriarchal power structure is sustained? Dartmouth is beyond problematic in this turning back-the-clock thing they are doing.

     

    Next they’ll be wanting students to show up to class on time.

    And sober.

    With their “smart phones” stowed in their backpacks. 

    • #27
  28. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    Randy Weivoda (View Comment):

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):
    I think the damage we will see from the climate change movement and resulting energy and environmental policies will dwarf what the Democrats and RINOs have done to education. A RINO is someone who pretends to be conservative.

    Who are the RINOs who oppose standardized tests for college admissions? I have heard about various people on the far left opposing them, but I hadn’t heard there there were Republicans standing with them.

    I don’t know that I could give you specific names because this has happened over a period of half a century. I thought Lankford was a conservative Senator until this week. Much of the failure is simply the Congress delegating overly broad authority to the Executive departments and agencies and many Republicans have been part of that.

    • #28
  29. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot) 🏴 Suspended
    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot)
    @ArizonaPatriot

    Full Size Tabby: Hence I never understood the drive in the late 2010s to eliminate from college admissions processes the standardized test, due to their somehow contributing to inequality for ethnic minority or economically disadvantaged students. Those were exactly the students the standardized tests were benefitting in the 1960s and 1970s.

    The standardized tests never benefitted black students, broadly speaking.  In the period before the mid-1960s, they could be used to identify the relatively small number of highly talented students in these groups, but there wasn’t much interest in doing so.  After the mid-1960s, blacks were given racial preference through what essentially amounted to quota systems, despite their generally low test scores.

    Hispanic test scores are also on the low side, though not as low as blacks.  Obviously, there are a few high scorers in both groups.

    Who were the “ethnic minority” students benefitting from standardized tests in the 1960s?  (And probably earlier, particularly in the 1950s.)  Well, Jews for one, who used to have very high test scores, though I’ve seen some analyses indicating that this is no longer the case.  My own ethnic groups, Italians and Poles, who faced quite a bit of discrimination in the mid-20th Century.  Perhaps the Irish, though I doubt it, as the big wave of Irish immigration was in the mid-19th Century, I think.

    Orientals would now benefit from standardized testing, but I don’t think that there’s any significant desire to discriminate against Orientals on the part of most whites.  Many blacks and Hispanics, and their white advocates, do want to discriminate against Orientals and whites alike.

    • #29
  30. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot) 🏴 Suspended
    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot)
    @ArizonaPatriot

    One further thought.

    Historically, I don’t think that standardized testing for college — or IQ testing generally for the military — was intended to support ethnic “diversity.”

    As I understand it, the goal was more class-based.  The initial purpose of such testing was to identify poor youths of high ability.  It had little or nothing to do with racial or ethnic background.

    • #30
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