January 28, 2022

Weakening the SAT to Fight ‘Racism’ and COVID

The College Board is testing the limits of standardized testing with politically driven changes.

Over the years, there’s been a push among educators, administrators, and even some parents to stop “teaching to the test” in America’s schools. Certainly, there’s a case to be made that rote memorization isn’t always the best way to assess knowledge, but there’s also a case that tests have their place.

Tests such as the SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test, later changed to Scholastic Assessment Test) and ACT (American College Test) were still widely accepted as an imperfect but vital way to determine whether students were prepared for the college classroom other than looking at their high school transcripts.

Then COVID-19 hit and caused widespread cancellations across the country.

“Many students never made it through the test-center door; the pandemic left much of the high school class of 2021 without an SAT or ACT score to submit,” Smithsonian Magazine reports. “Facing test access challenges and changing application requirements, about half did not submit scores with their applications, according to Robert Schaeffer, executive director of the nonprofit National Center for Fair & Open Testing in Boston.”

Smithsonian adds, “This didn’t bar them from applying to the nation’s most selective colleges as it would have in any other year: Starting in spring 2020, in a trickle that became a deluge, the nation’s most selective colleges and universities responded to the situation by dropping the standardized test score requirement for applicants.”

How many colleges and universities have dropped the standardized tests?

According to the National Center for Fair & Open Testing, nearly 80% of bachelor’s degree-granting institutions are not requiring test scores from students applying for Fall 2022. Some schools, including UCLA and Catholic University, now omit scores if they’re submitted.

But COVID isn’t the only reason for the movement away from the SAT and ACT.

None other than Ibram X. Kendi, author of How to Be an Anti-Racist, claims that “standardized tests have become the most effective racist weapon ever devised to objectively degrade Black and Brown minds and legally exclude their bodies from prestigious schools.”

Predictably, schools listened.

“In response to charges such as Kendi’s,” Blaze Media reports, “the American university system has not only been disregarding standardized test scores of prospective students but has begun to actively discriminate against demographics of students who routinely perform well on them.”

It all makes sense now. The movement to dismantle the college admissions testing system only needed a crisis. COVID provided administrators with that opportunity.

And that’s too bad for many black and brown students who took advantage of standardized tests to emerge from poor schools and prove they were ready for a rigorous college education. According to Fox News: “In the class of 2020, nearly 1.7 million U.S. students had SAT scores that confirmed or exceeded their high school GPA. That means their SAT scores were a point of strength on their college applications, according to College Board. Among those students, more than 300,000 were from small towns and rural communities; 600,000 were first-generation college goers; and 700,000 were Black or Latino.”

For now, companies like The College Board aren’t willing to surrender to the anti-test movement, but they are making the SAT shorter and easier.

That’s not enough for the National Center for Fair and Open Testing, which stated, “Shifting an unnecessary, biased, coachable, and poorly predictive multiple-choice exam that few schools currently require from pencil-and-paper delivery to an electronic format does not magically transform it into a more accurate, fairer or valid tool for assessing college readiness.”

One of the most interesting parts of the debate over standardized tests is there’s virtually no debate at all. And that’s the problem. Anti-test organizations used a pandemic to push through their agenda (where have we heard that before?), and the race-baiters approached it with their usual lack of tact, all without considering the negative consequences. Maybe some standardized tests do need to be changed, but we ought to have a discussion instead of playing politics with the education of our children.

(Corrected name of the SAT)

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