Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Getting Smart on SATs

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Getting Smart on SATs

Article excerpt

Recently, the spotlight's been on the debate over national tests to assess reading and math skills. But those proposed national exams aren't the only testing controversy around. For years, educators have debated the merits of the SATs and other standard exams that help determine readiness for college.

Critics say the tests tend to discriminate on a race or class basis, and are poor predictors of academic performance. Last week the University of California's Latino Eligibility Task Force asked the Board of Regents to make the SATS optional for applicants to help boost enrollment of Latinos - and other minorities. The regents will consider the recommendation and may vote on the issue next March.

The NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) is grappling with a similar question. Last week it promised a year-long review of its new, tougher academic requirements for college athletes: at least 820 on the SATs and a high school grade point average of 2.5. The concern in question? That the requirements may hit African-American students hardest. The College Board, which administers the SATs, hasn't ignored such complaints. In the past few years, it has revised the test with the aim of removing possible cultural bias. Still, some colleges and universities have dropped the SAT requirement altogether. They assert that other factors - difficulty and variety of coursework, class rank, school reputation, depth and breadth of extracurricular activities - can tell them more about what students have achieved and how well they're likely to perform in college than a standardized test. That's perplexing. College admissions officials ought to be seeking as much information as possible. It's difficult enough for them to know how rigorous each high school in the country is in terms of grading and assessing its students. …

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