According to Time Magazine, in a recent opinion piece written by Leon Botstein and a New York Times piece, written by Tamar Lewin, we may finally be getting somewhere with educational reform, especially in the way of leveling the playing field in the disparate socio-economic classes. It has long been known that students in the upper echelons, who are provided with private tutors specialize in SAT test prep, far surpass their underprivileged peers. Alphie Kohn said it best in in Education Week: For decades, critics have complained that many standardized tests are unfair because the questions require a set of knowledge and skills more likely to be possessed by children from a privileged background. The discriminatory effect is particularly pronounced with norm-referenced tests, where the imperative to spread out the scores often produces questions that tap knowledge gained outside of school. This, as W. James Popham argues, provides a powerful advantage to students whose parents are affluent and well-educated. It’s more than a little ironic to rely on biased tests to “close the gap” between rich and poor. The mere fact that it is finally being recognized that standardized testing is not a good indicator of student success on a college level may have the chance of trickling down through the high school into the lower grades.
Time Magazine reported that high school grades are a more representative indicator in conjunction with academic programs as to college readiness. The essential mechanism of the SAT, the multiple choice test question, is a bizarre relic of long outdated twentieth-century social scientific assumptions and strategies. As every adult recognizes, knowing something or how to do something in real life is never defined by being able to choose a “right” answer from a set of possible answers (some of them intentionally misleading) put forward by faceless test designers who are rarely eminent experts. No scientist, engineer, writer, psychologist, artist, or physician—and certainly no scholar, and therefore no serious university faculty member—pursues his or her vocation by getting right answers from a set of prescribed alternatives that trivialize complexity and ambiguity. READ the TIME Magazine article
The New York Times spoke of the central rethinking of the SAT, ending the customary punishment for guessing wrong, cutting obscure vocabulary and having the essay as an option. The president of the College Board, David Coleman, criticized his own SAT test, as well as the ACT, saying that both had “become disconnected from the work of our high schools.”