OPINION: Standardized testing can’t be the standard any longer

College admissions place too much weight on SAT scores, they shouldn’t

Carolyn Jewett

Ever since I can remember, my teachers taught me the SAT is one of the biggest factors in determining whether or not students will be accepted into college. And for so long, I thought nothing was wrong with it. Until now.
The SAT started out as a test that was meant to analyze a person’s IQ, according to Psychology Today. But, over time it has shifted towards favoring certain groups over others, and therefore, isn’t fair.
“The SATs are one measure of a student’s potential to do well in college,” Boulder High School teacher Laura Jordan said. “Unfortunately, over the years it has proven to be not a very accurate predictive measure, and it has proven to be slanted toward a majority group. So it, I think, unfairly discriminates against kids of color and kids in poverty.”
Multiple studies on the SAT have found that it favors wealthier students over students from lower socioeconomic statuses. There are personal, and environmental advantages and disadvantages for all students, but many lower income families have less resources than higher income families.
“[Lower income families] don’t get test preparation. Because test preparation might cost your parents money, right? And [wealthier families] have the income to help you to do test preparation,” Malena Brohm, the Chief of Staff in the Office of the Dean at the Business School of University of Colorado-Denver said. “I think another factor is how higher income families have access to educational opportunities that are not available to lower income families.”
The SAT costs money not only to study for, but also to participate in. Lower income families might struggle to afford having their kids take the test in the first place, much less buying study materials.
One of these costs is tutors, which can cost up to $100 an hour to help prepare students for the SAT. That much money might not be a feasible option for low income families. However, high income families have no problem with that.
The struggles of the SAT go beyond just prep classes and costs, but also into a student’s struggles in everyday academic life.
The SAT favors students who study, who have resources, who have money, and lower income families have more challenges than that. Some can’t even afford to have technology at home.
“There’s the digital gap,” Brohm said. “And that’s the type of technology that the more wealthy folks have access to versus some kids from lower socio economic status might not even have WiFi at home.”
How can a student be expected to be successful when they can’t even afford the basics of learning at their own home?
Looking at a student’s transcript or their grades or SAT scores is not enough to determine whether they’ll be successful or not, because there’s so much to them that goes off paper.
“There’s a lot of things that happen in a child’s life that impacts their academic performance, whether it’s good or bad,” Principal Neil Anderson said. “That doesn’t necessarily mean that they aren’t able, or ready to move into the rigors of a college university or career field.”
There’s no accurate way to measure a person’s intelligence or their ability to succeed, especially through a test, because there are always things going on outside of the classroom, outside of school, and outside of a test that impact how they perform.
“You could say, this child held down two jobs while they were in school, and they were highly respected, they were employees of the month.” Jordan said. “Or this kid we know takes care of their siblings after school and has done so for the last 10 years and still managed to get a 3.0 average.”
Now, more than ever, the SAT is an unreliable source of information for students and colleges. COVID-19 has changed our landscape dramatically, forcing us to adjust to the challenges it presents.
Students are unable to take the test on Saturdays, prep classes are online instead of in person, test centers have to adhere to public health guidelines, and there is limited capacity and availability for students to take the test.
You will never get an accurate prediction of someone’s success based off of a test. You’ll never know a person’s struggles, their passions, the obstacles they’ve faced based off of a 154 question assessment.
The SAT is not accurate, it’s not fair, and colleges should not use such a discriminatory, biased test to determine if a student will succeed and if they deserve a college education or not.