Tag: SAT

Before Standardized Testing


A bit more than a week ago, the regents of the University of California voted unanimously to approve Janet Napolitano’s proposal that the UC system cease using the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) and the ACT to help their admissions departments choose from among their applicants those most apt to profit from the instruction the universities in the system offer. This they did in the face of a UC Faculty Senate study confirming the utility of these standardized tests for that purpose and demonstrating that the poor showing of African-American and Hispanic high school students on these examinations had little, if anything, to do with test bias and much to do with poor high school preparation.

In theory, UC will now design its own test for applicants, but this can hardly be made to produce the results desired – for it will surely be unavailable to students from out of state, and no examination testing the candidates’ intelligence and preparation is likely to produce results dramatically different from what one secures via the SAT and ACT, which do an excellent job of predicting future academic success. In practice, all of this is obfuscation: for, as I argued on 18 May in “The Value of Standardized Testing,” the real aim of those who want to eliminate standardized testing or make it optional is to make it possible for their schools to practice that species of systematic racial discrimination that passes under the euphemism “affirmative action” without anyone being able to prove that this is what they are doing.

What, you might ask, did universities do before the SAT and ACT existed? Some had their own exams – which gave great advantage to those who could travel to the campus to take it. Others emphasized “character” – which, though in principle admirable, tended in practice to mean that to be successful an applicant had to belong to the appropriate social class. In much of the Ivy League, this meant that Catholics, Jews, and the like had no need to bother applying. As discovery in a recent court case against Harvard revealed, this is how that university excludes Asian-American applicants today.

The Value of Standardized Testing


It has become fashionable in the world of higher education to advocate eliminating the requirement that prospective students take the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) or the ACT and then submit their scores to the admissions offices of the colleges and universities to which they apply. Janet Napolitano, the President of the University of California (UC), has even proposed that at Berkeley, UCLA, and the other elite institutions in the California system such scores be ignored altogether.

The faculty senate at UC has come down on the other side after conducting, at Napolitano’s direction, an extensive study of the question focused on the utility of the tests and on the question of whether they are a source of racial discrimination. The faculty study concluded that the tests have been useful for distinguishing those who could profit from the courses of study at these elite schools from those who could not and that the existing racial disparities in their student bodies had to do chiefly with poor preparation and not with the tests themselves.

What, you might ask, is this all about? The answer is simple enough. High school grades no longer mean much. Grade inflation has ensured that. The SAT and ACT tests may not be infallible. There are able people who do poorly on standardized tests, and these examinations reveal little about the grit and determination of those who score well. But, on the whole, they do a pretty good job of measuring what they purport to measure – the quality of the young person’s preparation for college and his or her aptitude. And in the aggregate, as the faculty senate at UC discovered, they do an excellent job of predicting academic success.

Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America have a lively discussion of the Trump administration’s withdrawal of federal funding for California’s high-speed rail project. Democratic presidential hopeful Kirsten Gillibrand says states would no longer be able to legislate on abortion if she gets elected. And Jim offers a radical counter-proposal after learning an adversity score was added to the SAT.

A Homeschooler Applies to College


I have six tadpoles, all of whom have been or currently are homeschooled, the oldest of whom is a college junior and the youngest of whom is a third grader in our own Edith Stein Academy. Right now, our high school senior and I are engaged in college application fun. I thought it might be of some interest to the Ricochetti to hear what the process is like for home schooling families like the one here in Toad Hall.

College Prep