<p>A world without SATs sounds good in theory - but it would be a disaster for colleges as they would be unable to distinguish excellent students from average students - as high school grades/rank/recommendations etc - can tell very little about certain students</p>
<p>As for Greenwich - the number seem too high to be real: however I see Wayland, MA - another very wealthy community somehow having (amazingly enough) 12% of its students LD designated for the SAT, which is way too high also. Certainly the SAT is being LD gamed big time in certain locales</p>
<p>More time for SATs a concern
By Ron DePasquale, Globe Correspondent | June 1, 2006</p>
<p>A Wayland High School guidance counselor has questioned the unusually high number of suburban students who receive extra time on the SAT college entrance exam because they have a learning disability, warning that some may not be truly disabled.</p>
<p><code>Like everything else in life, the rich have access to things that others don't, and kids with subtle learning issues can afford to pay a psychologist to call it a disability" and gain an edge on the test, said Norma Greenberg, guidance director at Wayland High School.</code>`There are a hell of a lot more doing this now."
Statewide, about 5 percent of students are granted accommodations (usually extra time) on the test, more than twice the national average of about 2 percent.
In Wayland, 12 percent of students get accommodations, said Greenberg, who injected herself into a national debate over the issue when she was quoted on network TV earlier this spring.
Brian O'Reilly, spokesman for the College Board, which administers the SATs, said he saw nothing nefarious in the fact that the number of students receiving accomodations nationally has nearly doubled since 1995.
Many years ago, students with disabilities were not considered eligible for college," O'Reilly said.Fortunately, that's changed a great deal, and there are many more students with disabilities taking the SAT."
O'Reilly said more suburban students are classified as disabled than urban students because suburban schools are simply better equipped to spot and assist them.
Greenberg, however, said that wealthy students who simply aren't great at the SAT are turning a simple weakness into a learning disability.
In the old days, you could tell students they were not good test takers, and they were OK with that," she said.Some people can't shoot a basketball -- that doesn't mean you're disabled. With learning, it's the same thing, everyone has strengths and weaknesses."
Parents who want to boost their children's scores refuse to accept that their child simply has a weakness, Greenberg said.
In most cases, a team of school officials that usually includes a guidance counselor and a school psychologist first evaluates disability evaluations before sending them on to the College Board, which then must approve them, O'Reilly said. Some students, usually from private schools, apply directly to the College Board for extra time.
O'Reilly said the number of students receiving extra time leveled off about five years ago. In the fall of 2003, the College Board discontinued its practice of flagging a student's scores when they had been given extra time. There hasn't been a significant jump in disability determinations since then.
Thom Hughart , Wellesley High School guidance director, said he was concerned, too, about students seeking an unfair advantage on the test.
Wellesley students can expect a strict evaluation of disability before it even goes to the College Board, Hughart said. Students only interested in receiving extra time on the SAT and not in other forms of assistance are treated suspiciously, he said.
I've got one or two I'm now looking at that I'm probably not going to grant," Hughart said.Students can't just say they get distracted and nervous and they need extra time."
Harvard graduate student Sam Abrams , who is studying how the issue plays out in the Washington, D.C. , area, said the situation is ``an absolute disaster."
``Students of high status with money, who are white and attend ing private schools or elite suburban high schools , are the ones who take advantage of the relative ease to gain disability qualifications and extended time on the SAT," he said.
Some college admissions officials, however, downplayed the SAT's importance and said they didn't fear widespread abuse.
``I've heard the same rumor and innuendo for years, and I'm very skeptical," said John Mahoney , director of undergraduate admission at Boston College.
Mahoney called the disparity between the number of suburban and urban disabled students a concern but said he saw progress overall.
When I first stepped into a classroom 25 years ago, if a kid said he had a learning disability, you didn't even know what he was talking about," said Mahoney, who once taught at St. John's Preparatory School in Danvers.There's so much more awareness now."
Wendy Byrnes , a family advocate with the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, based in Berkeley, Calif., said she thinks that most students receiving extra time are genuinely disabled.
``This is a necessary process that allows them to participate like other students," Byrnes said.</p>
<p>This coming weekend are the final SAT tests for the season.</p>
<p>Greenberg and some other critics have a suggestion they believe would restore fairness: Give all students as much time as they need to finish the test.</p>
<p><code>The MCAS is not timed, so why shouldn't the highest-stakes test for kids be the same?" said Wayland's Greenberg.</code>It would make such a huge difference for so many. Just the knowledge of having as much time as you need would help kids relax a bit."</p>