Thursday, March 6, 2014
Behind the Scenes: Troubles in SAT-ville
The complex story of the College Board making substantial changes to the SAT, announced yesterday, will reverberate for many years to come. A wonderful piece in the upcoming Sunday New York Times, just posted on-line, contains vital and damning information about the uses and abuses of the SAT in admissions and in the US News and World Report rankings - which schools go to great lengths to inflate, using, among other devices, SAT scores.
Let's not forget that the College Board, though technically a "nonprofit," is a hugely profitable business. According to a 2011 Bloomberg article, the president of the College Board makes more than $1 million - more than the president of the Red Cross, and more than many university presidents. The organization itself takes in hundreds of millions in revenue, and spends a small fraction of that every year.
It's worth reading the whole darn article. Here's a juicy excerpt:
"While more colleges are choosing to opt out of standardized testing, an estimated 80 percent of four-year colleges still require either SAT or A.C.T. scores, according to David Hawkins at Nacac, and admissions officers report feeling bound to the tests as a way to filter the overwhelming numbers of applicants. Robert Sternberg, a celebrated author and Cornell professor, told “Frontline” that when he was at Yale and reviewed admissions applications, the scores were hard to ignore. “I know that when I’m reading applications and as the night goes on and I’m reading more and more, it gets more and more tempting to count the SATs,” he said. “It’s easier than reading these long essays and teacher recommendations. It’s human nature.” On top of the pressures to winnow the applicants, the Nacac report cited the problems resulting from the use of SAT and A.C.T. scores by U.S. News & World Report to create its rankings, stating that the scores “were not a valid measure of institutional quality.” In addition, it criticized the use of the SAT and A.C.T. by bond-rating companies to help assess the financial health of a school as creating “undue pressure on admission offices to pursue increasingly high test scores.” READ MORE