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Scrapping The SAT

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Penna Dexternever miss viewpoints

Some colleges and universities have decided to stop using the SAT and ACT exams to make admissions decisions. The largest system to make such an announcement is the University of California. Its size and prestige will certainly influence others.

The Wall Street Journal’s Jason Riley says, “That’s unfortunate because low-income minorities have more to lose than gain from the end of standardized testing.”

One critique is that test questions contain cultural bias that would make it harder for racial and ethnic minorities or low-income applicants to do well. For example, of four possible comparisons, ‘Runner is to Marathon’ best parallels the relationship of ‘Oarsman to Regatta.’ SAT critics contend that such a question discriminates since an inner-city student would be less likely than a white kid from an upscale community to know that a regatta is a boat race.

Another complaint is that low-income students are less likely to take prep courses.

The Journal’s Jason Riley, who is black, points out: “questions that depend on exposure to white privilege are rare, not typical.” Factors like study habits, time spent reading books versus watching television, the size and complexity of vocabulary a student is exposed to growing up, and the quality of elementary school that student attended are behind the racial and ethnic disparities in scores.

A family’s wealth provides advantages. But, as University of Virginia sociologist W. Bradford Wilcox points out, when it comes to who will succeed in college, the most privileged students are those from intact families. The SAT is actually a good way to identify kids from difficult backgrounds who have academic potential.

Blacks and Hispanics do score lower, on average, than whites and Asians on these tests. It may be taboo to mention it, but fatherlessness is the primary reason for the achievement gap. The SAT and ACT tests are not the problem. Getting rid of them will only paper over and obscure this reality and do nothing to change it.penna's vp small

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