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Commentary: Time to Ditch the SAT

135

Replies to: Commentary: Time to Ditch the SAT

  • mmk2015mmk2015 Registered User Posts: 596 Member
    Maybe standardized tests only show how well one takes a standardized test.

    No offense to anyone, but...

    I can see how colleges or future employers will take their chances with kids who score ACT C34+ or SAT 1500+ than kids who score ACT C20 or SAT 1000.
  • Sue22Sue22 Registered User Posts: 5,659 Senior Member
    "Higher education" starts with the freshman and sophomore years, and those are available on a low-cost easily accessible basis, no testing required, almost everywhere at community college. Those who are successful there seem to have little difficulty transferring to suitable four-year schools as juniors.
    You must live in California. :)

    The most serious community college in my area (within an hour's commute) has articulation agreements with a few 4 year colleges, but they're mostly for students who have earned specified AA's, such as nursing or paralegal degrees. The college offers only two physics classes that aren't for specific jobs (radiography or fire sciences), no Mandarin, one geology course, one philosophy course, one astronomy course. Want to study dental hygiene? It's a good school. Want to take a math course beyond linear algebra? Not so good. IOW, it concentrates on vocational training, not prepping kids for 4 year colleges, although some students do continue at other schools.

    Bates and Wesleyan don't need to build more dorms if other schools admit smart, high achieving kids with lousy test scores. While I agree with you that some kids really should take the vocational route, there are plenty of kids who have proven themselves academically in HS but whose scores are a mismatch with their achievement.
  • SatchelSFSatchelSF Registered User Posts: 1,055 Senior Member
    edited April 20
    ^Analogy questions were always going to be the most highly correlated with innate ability, and the most difficult to game. (This is because it requires the test taker to deduce a rule, and then apply it.) Both the verbal analogies and math comparisons disappeared in 2005, well after any adjustments were made to address the alleged "cultural biases" that existed decades earlier (which were always exaggerated anyway - the infamous "regatta" question, lol - just how many children of any race had any exposure to sailing?). Vocabulary questions were said to have favored kids who attended schools that taught vocabulary lists, but of course the world even back then contained no dearth of reading material.

    The 1995 SAT recentering basically added 70 points to all the verbal scores (80 points in the 300-400 range). Every score above 720 was compressed into 800. On math, it generally added 20 points to above 750, subtracted about 10 points below 670 down to around 620, and then started adding points in an increasing fashion down to the 300-400 range, over which 40-60 points were added. A very strange adjustment to say the least. To some degree, especially with math, the new distributions represented an adjustment to reflect the different demographics of college bound kids in the late 1980s versus the 1940s cohort against which the original test had been normed.

    If we normed the mathematics distribution against today's cohort, it would need to go up to at least 900 or a 1000.

    Agreed that the standardized tests are way too easy today to make meaningful distinctions among the upper five percent or so of ability (the traditional group targeted by "top" colleges).
  • SatchelSFSatchelSF Registered User Posts: 1,055 Senior Member
    edited April 20
    I found this tidbit in Michelle Hernandez’s A is for Admissions (1999):
    If you want to see more sobering statistics about the [recentered] SATs, you need only look at Harvard’s numbers on the recentered SAT for the class of 2000. Of the over 18,000 applications they received in 1995, 9,400 students received higher than a combined SAT of 1400; 1,600 received perfect verbal scores of 800; and 1,900 had perfect math scores of 800. Before recentering, only about twenty to thirty students worldwide scored a perfect 1,600 combined, whereas with the new test, Harvard alone turned down 165 (out of 365) applicants with perfect 1,600 combined SAT I scores. Nationwide, about 545 students scored 1,600 in 1996.
    Lots of interesting data in there to mine. Personally, I find it interesting that roughly 67% of the kids with perfect scores applied to Harvard. Of course, even though the SAT today is even easier in many ways than the 1996 test (much easier to game for lesser ability kids), there are still only about 600 “perfect” scores I think a year (if anyone has the most recent data, please post). I wonder if the ease of applying today to multiple schools implies that Harvard (and other tippy top) places gets a higher percentage of prefect score applicants.

    Anyway, it does give the lie to the common meme on CC that colleges get “thousands” of perfect score + 4.0 GPA candidates. Impossible, even in today’s more relaxed standards world.
  • Happytimes2001Happytimes2001 Registered User Posts: 809 Member
    The SAT is far too easy for many, many top students. This means that top schools have no statistical basis to sort the very good from the top notch who can do the work at major colleges. I keep seeing all who score high can do the work, not true, if you are amongst the very best in the world ( math at MIT/Caltech) and you are 97% you are going to be drowning. Likewise, someone in the 95% in verbal is not going to hold his/her own in a writing program with others who are the best in the nation.
  • SatchelSFSatchelSF Registered User Posts: 1,055 Senior Member
    edited April 20
    Of course the SAT is too easy. But note, in the above data from Hernandez, that in 1996 Harvard accepted 200/365 = 55% of the perfect scorers. I think that around this time, the overall acceptance rate was approximately 10-12% (could anyone confirm or correct me here). So, there was a significant advantage to the perfect score, an approximately 500% advantage as compared to the people who tested in range (actually, there was a significant advantage to being smart enough to test "off the scale," which was likely reflected throughout the application).

    For people who go on and on about how test scores do not matter much for admissions beyond a certain "threshold" (in other words, do not correlate with the qualities top schools are looking for), the above numbers should give some pause.

    Today, I suppose that there are far more perfect math scores than verbal, so verbal will still act as the "gate". I doubt the admittance rate for composite perfect scores is 55% today, especially as there are so many 36 composite scores on the very coachable ACT, but I also doubt it's only 15 or 20% either. It has to be a very significant advantage. No wonder people who can't score very high want to eliminate the SAT!
  • droppeditdroppedit Registered User Posts: 1,015 Senior Member
    @SatchelSF -- as one of the people who go on and on about test scores, I don't think the obsession with test scores is healthy. IMHO, what the "top" schools are looking for are sure things for college -- a combination of top scores and ECs in HS. I think that @data10 has the best grasp of the situation.
  • HERKFOOT21HERKFOOT21 Registered User Posts: 20 Junior Member
    Yep SAT scores are taken waaay to serious in our communities. I'd recommend anybody to read my most influencial book The Millionaire Mind by Joe Stanley. The author interviewed about 1200 millionaires and the average GPA of all of them was a 2.9. Also there was an opposite correlation with wealth and SAT scores. The higher SAT scores of those millionaires made less money. If you'd like to create your own business someday, do you really think your GPA or SAT scores determine how you succeed in your business? Also the author had the millionaires rank what they found important to their success and nearly 80% of them ranked good grades as not important to their success. Now of the ones that ranked their good grades important were either Doctors, lawyers, or high up leaders in high tech and science industries, which makes sense because you have to get good grades to get into medical and law school. There was even a person from a country (i forgot which one) that came to america because they needed free thinkers and creators even though their country had the highest SAT scores. The person said, so what, it's just a test, i need creative people! Don't let SATs and GPAs hold you down and predict your future, especially if you're in a more social degree!
  • itsgettingreal17itsgettingreal17 Registered User Posts: 3,486 Senior Member
    @Happytimes2001 High verbal scores on the SAT does not make a top writer. The SAT isn’t testing writing ability. Neither is the ACT. Y’all are too obsessed with academic stats.
  • Happytimes2001Happytimes2001 Registered User Posts: 809 Member
    @itsgettingreal17 No, the SAT doesn't test writing any longer. They tried it and people complained that the test favored some over others. Ok, let me just say this. According to US News and World report here are the top and bottom rankings for US education. MA is #1 and NJ is #2. While, LA is #49 and NM is #50). I'm pretty sure someone in MA or NJ does not want their grades compared to someone in LA and NM. The SAT takes out the state and school differentials. It shows that someone attends a difficult/magnet or charter school or a school where education isn't taken seriously. There are lots of states where education is failing and lots of states where you can get a great public school education. Why should someone who is learning a lot be compared to someone in a failing school. It doesn't make any sense. The SAT is used to figure out the REAL strength of the student vs. everyone in the nation.
  • YnotgoYnotgo Registered User Posts: 3,896 Senior Member
    The SAT is far too easy for many, many top students. This means that top schools have no statistical basis to sort the very good from the top notch who can do the work at major colleges. I keep seeing all who score high can do the work, not true, if you are amongst the very best in the world ( math at MIT/Caltech) and you are 97% you are going to be drowning.
    This is probably why both MIT and Caltech ask for AMC and AIME scores (if taken) on their applications. Course rigor and STEM AP scores are also used to sort the top layer of students at that level. Beyond whatever SAT/ACT/SAT II level they have decided shows readiness for their curriculum, they are also looking for students who fit their environment.
  • 1sttimethrougj1sttimethrougj Registered User Posts: 10 New Member
    Oh okay - no standardized tests, no class rank - how exactly do you expect college admissions committees to have an objective standard on which to evaluate? This isn't utopia - there are only so many slots available at each school and in order to make sure people who will do the best in those slots get them, there has to be a way to evaluate. There's not enough time in the world to drill down on the millions of students applying to colleges individually - there has to be something that allows comparison. Standardized tests are there because you have to have a standard on which to evaluate talent and intelligence. You can't just try and figure out by someone's life narrative if they seem nice and smart and use that as criteria for entry.
  • riley2riley2 Registered User Posts: 66 Junior Member
    edited April 23
    @SatchelSF you’re right, the number of kids w perfect scores is vastly overstated in admissions chats where the narrative persists that Harvard or Stanford could fill their classes several times over w perfect SAT applicants. The data were available from the College Board in 2013 when my son took the old SAT: fewer than 400 perfect 2400s, fewer than 800 with 2390 or above WORLDWIDE. (Ie out of roughly 1.7M test takers that year)
    http://media.collegeboard.com/digitalServices/pdf/research/SAT-Percentile-Ranks-Composite-CR-M-W-2013.pdf
  • JerseyParentsJerseyParents Registered User Posts: 424 Member
    They shouldn't get rid of the SAT - they should make it harder.
    In this era of Grade-flation how else can kid differentiate themselves?
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