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

  • Lunch Forum with Amity Shlaes

    Location: Hyatt Regency Minneapolis 1300 Nicollet Mall Minneapolis, MN 55403

    Buy tickets HERE. About This Event: Enjoy our Early Bird Ticket Special through February 23rd! After this date, ticket price will increase to $30. Doors open at 11:30 AM, program and lunch begin at Noon. In Great Society, the New York Times bestselling author of The Forgotten Man and Coolidgeoffers a stunning revision of our last great period of idealism, the 1960s, with burning relevance for our contemporary challenges. Today, a battle rages in our country. Many Americans are attracted to socialism and economic redistribution while opponents of those ideas argue for purer capitalism. In the 1960s, Americans sought the…

    Register Now
  • Morning in Minnesota Breakfast Series: Moorhead

    Location: Moorhead Country Club 2101 North River Drive, Moorhead, MN, 56560

    Join Center of the American Experiment Friday, February 21 at the Moorhead Country Club for a FREE breakfast with policy fellow Isaac Orr.

    Register Now
  • 2020 Annual Dinner Featuring Sarah Huckabee Sanders

    Location: Minneapolis Convention Center Ballroom 1301 2nd Ave S Minneapolis, MN 55403

    American President: The Unorthodox Approach to Politics that Changed the World. Sarah Huckabee Sanders served as White House Press Secretary for President Donald J. Trump from 2017 to 2019. A trusted confidant of the President, Sanders advised him on everything from press and communications strategy to personnel and policy. For two and a half years, Sanders was at the President’s side, battling with the media, working with lawmakers and CEOs, and staffing the President on every foreign trip, including dozens of meetings with foreign leaders. Sanders is only the third woman and the first mother to hold the job of…

    Register Now