fbpx

Latest Posts

Home

Facebook

Twitter

Search
About

The Historic Fairness of Standardized Admissions Tests

The SATs and ACT’s are particularly high-profile right now, in largest part because of ridiculously rich parents spending ridiculous amounts of money to feloniously insinuate their children into elite and not-so-elite universities and colleges.  Beyond accelerating perpetual arguments about the fundamental fairness of higher education admissions, the scandal also has provoked crisper conversation about the fairness of the tests themselves.  Further mixing things up have been news accounts about how various colleges and universities around the country have decided not to use either of the two tests at all.

The aim of SATs and ACTs is gauging academic preparation and readiness for college work.  If universities opt not to use them, that’s their choice.  If they believe such a policy works for them, so be it and good luck.  But given that a “C” in thousands of high schools is the equivalent of an “A” in thousands of other high schools, and vice versa, I often wonder how institutions make adequately informed decisions in many instances without the additional information provided by standardized tests – especially since they’re more predictive of college performance than critics routinely contend.  Selfishly, I’m just grateful that I never have to take another standardized test for as long as I live unless, for some unanticipated reason, I choose to.

In considering the fairness of SAT’s and ACTs, focus centers on whether they discriminate against students of color (most Asian young people exempted) as well as low-income students generally.  Standardized tests, though, have been perpetually and intensively scrubbed of possibly biased questions for decades now.  But there is another essential, albeit largely unrecalled testing effort that goes back much longer, and it’s hard to miss its irony.

The widespread use of standardized tests in admissions was a mostly a post-World War II advance.  In the words of one scholar, they were once the “darling of liberals and egalitarians,” as they did much to reduce discrimination against certain groups, especially Jews and Asians back then.  Standardized tests promised to lessen the weight of subjective, often prejudicial influences such as preordained interviews, by helping to reveal students’ innate abilities.  And they succeeded.

Will test-dismissed admissions policies do the same?

Comments

Subscribe

Categories

Upcoming Events

  • Morning in Minnesota Breakfast: St. Cloud

    Location: Coyote Moon Grille 480 55th Ave SE, St. Cloud, MN 56304

    Please join Center of the American Experiment on Wednesday, October 16that Coyote Moon Grille for breakfast with Center policy fellow and energy expert, Isaac Orr. Following his discussion of his new report, “Doubling Down on Failure,” Isaac will be joined by a panel of local leaders for a conversation about renewable energy standards in Minnesota. Wednesday, October 16, 2019 Coyote Moon Grille, 480 55th Ave SE, St. Cloud, MN 56304 7:30 AM Breakfast & Check-in 8:00 AM Presentation 9:00 AM Conclude Free, RSVP Here

    Register Now
  • Morning in Minnesota Breakfast: Mankato

    Location: Mankato Golf Club, 100 August Drive, Mankato, MN 56002

    Please join Center of the American Experiment on Thursday, October 17that the Mankato Golf Club for breakfast with Center economist, John Phelan, as he discusses Minnesota’s economic future. Thursday, October 17, 2019 Mankato Golf Club 100 August Drive, Mankato, MN 56002 7:30 AM Breakfast & Check-in 8:00 AM Presentation 9:00 AM Conclude Free, RSVP Here

    Register Now
  • Morning in Minnesota Breakfast: Alexandria

    Location: Alexandria Golf Club 2300 North Nokomis Northeast Alexandria, MN 56308

    Please join Center of the American Experiment on Wednesday, September 25th at the Alexandria Golf Club for breakfast with Center policy fellow and education expert, Catrin Wigfall, as she explains the Center’s “Great Jobs Without a Four-Year Degree” project. Following her presentation on workforce development issues, Catrin will be joined by a panel of local leaders to discuss how Alexandria can better attract and retain young talent. Wednesday, September 25, 2019 Alexandria Golf Club 2300 North Nokomis NE, Alexandria, MN 56308 8:00 AM Breakfast & Check-in 8:30 AM Presentation 9:30 AM Conclude Free, RSVP Here

    Register Now