Students aspiring to attend college won’t have access to an SAT or ACT test until September because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
It’s likely students will have time to get their standardized tests done in time to apply for college and, fortunately, most colleges are willing to work with students who won’t have test results.
The delay of administering SAT and ACT tests begs another question: Are they necessary at all?
The University of California Board of Regents recently unanimously voted to suspend the SAT and ACT testing requirements for freshman applicants through 2024 and eliminate them for California students after that — a plan proposed by Janet Napolitano, the university system’s president, according to a story in USA Today.
California’s college system, one of the largest in the country, signals what could be a change in outlook for colleges and universities in the United States.
The National Center for Fair and Open Testing has long alleged standardized tests such as the SAT or ACT “consistently under-predict the performance of women, African-Americans, people whose first language isn’t English and generally anyone who’s not a good test-taker.”
Many believe the tests are biased against low-income and minority students and favor wealthy students who can afford thousands of dollars’ worth of preparatory classes and fees to repeat the tests multiple times.
In addition, an entire industry of test taking has built up around the SAT and ACT in the form of preparatory classes and materials. Some students retake and retake the tests, trying to better their scores and, in turn, better their scholarships. That’s how the industry makes money and it’s a perfect example of teaching to the test, something educators generally abhor.
In addition, putting too much weight on the results of standardized tests does not give students the credit they deserve for the consistent hard work they do over the course of their four years in high school, nor does it take into consideration other elements of their high school experience, such as volunteer and community service, extra-curricular activities and church participation.
It’s time for higher education across the country to re-examine the value of the SAT and ACT tests when admitting students and judge them on their body of work in high school, not their under-pressure performance on a test designed to favor the wealth and discriminate against a myriad of minorities.