Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Testing the Truth about the SAT

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Testing the Truth about the SAT

Article excerpt

Testing the Truth About the SAT

This revised and updated version of David Owen's 1985 expose is: a) a balanced and objective analysis of the merits and limitations of the Scholastic Aptitude Test as a college entrance examination; b) a one-sided diatribe that can be easily dismissed; c) a significant extension of the original volume; d) none of the above.

The obvious answer to this question makes it a poor candidate for an SAT question. However, the limited information it provides about the depth and breadth of this well-researched inquiry mirrors the insufficiency of the SAT as a test of scholastic aptitude, ability or whatever its administrators will next claim it measures.

The two prefaces and two forwards set the tone for this unapologetic attack on the Educational Testing Service - which develops, revises, and administers the SAT for the College Board - and all of its products, but especially the SAT. The book then launches into a full frontal assault on ETS, poking fun at the corporate greed, misplaced values and the extremely thin scientific veneer under which lurk the bigoted measurement masterminds who perpetuate this travesty on unsuspecting youth.

Unfortunately, the verbal assault kicks into full gear before the evidentiary proceedings reach a similar level. I don't imagine that many proponents of ETS, or of standardized testing, would have the stomach to read past the first chapter - if they made it through the prefaces and forwards.

The strength of this book comes in the middle chapters, which poke substantial holes in every conceivable aspect of the development, implementation and use of the SATs to screen college applicants.

Also unlike the SATs, this book will appeal to multiple intelligences as it uses a variety of forms of evidence, including statistics, stories, logic and expert opinion.

It includes a compelling story about a cheating lawsuit that leads you to believe that ETS employs defense tactics that would make J. Edgar Hoover blush. The presentation is at times uneven, as exemplified by a weaker treatment of test validity (compared to reliability). Moreover, the bias of this book is so blatant that any true skeptic would be wary of the selective attention that the author likely paid to the entire field of available material.

Marilyn Doerr deserves credit and accolades for bringing this book back to print. …

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