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Tue May 12, 2020, 09:14 AM

UC President Napolitano recommends dropping the SAT, ACT tests

Source: San Francisco Chronicle

University of California President Janet Napolitano is recommending that the 10-campus system drop the SAT and ACT testing requirement and replace those standardized tests with a newly created admissions test in a move that could swiftly reshape the contentious college admissions process nationwide.

Napolitano’s plan, released Monday in a Board of Regents’ agenda, calls on university officials to create a new University of California-specific entrance exam by 2025 or ditch standardized testing for good. Either way, if regents adopt the recommendation at their May 21 meeting, high school juniors applying to University of California schools would never again need to take the SAT or ACT.

The recommendation follows years of debate surrounding the college admissions process, with pressure building from critics who say standardized tests put low-income and minority students at an inherent disadvantage.

Nearly 1,200 universities nationwide have made SAT and ACT test scores optional, including a recent wave of schools forced to be flexible by the coronavirus shutdowns, said Robert Schaeffer, interim executive director of FairTest, an anti-testing advocacy group.

Read more: https://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/amp/UC-President-Napolitano-recommends-dropping-the-15262991.php
This is the DU member formerly known as alp227.

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Response to alp227 (Original post)

Tue May 12, 2020, 09:20 AM

1. I took my SATs at a local university during Christmas break.

The heat had been turned off for days and you could see your breath in the classroom. It was so frickin' cold all I could think about was getting the hell out of there. The room was huge. There must have been 200-250 of us and probably 90% white. Maybe more, even.

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Response to CrispyQ (Reply #1)

Tue May 12, 2020, 05:53 PM

16. 50 years ago, one of my best friends had to do that in a high school in Minneapolis

also during the Christmas break, also with the heat turned off. When they asked on the form where he wanted results forwarded, he chose colleges in warm places.

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Response to alp227 (Original post)

Tue May 12, 2020, 09:31 AM

2. I am 30 years out of college,

I didn’t go traditional way, but finished night school. I took the SATs and did poorly. I still was able to get a degree and decent career. Not me, but some just can’t take tests. My problem is comprehension. I’m horrible at it. So I think at least optional is a good idea.

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Response to alp227 (Original post)

Tue May 12, 2020, 09:41 AM

3. Good.

The SAT and ACT don't accomplish anything but to extract money from people who want to go to college, and to disenfranchise the poor.

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Response to alp227 (Original post)

Tue May 12, 2020, 09:52 AM

4. This is pandering

The committee reported that this would be an ideal solution but would take at least 4 years to develop and a lot of money.

The development of this test would be so costly that the two university systems could not afford it over the next 4 years.

The reality is that those tests (SAT and ACT) provide a common meter stick to compare students.

Do they reflect some of the inequalities of our education system that insures that wealthy families can send their kids to better schools -- yes. But because they are standardized they provide the best chance for minorities, children of poverty, first generation students and other underrepresented groups to put their best foot forward.

REALITY CHECK
1. Grade inflation has increased the average GPA of students by over 0.50 points on a 4.o scale over the last 30 years. Research from a variety of sources has shown that it is more prevalent the more affluent the school and also increases as the percentage of white/Asian students increases.
2. Strength of academic schedule. Schools that contain majority African American and Hispanic students are significantly less likely to have Physics, Calculus, AP/IB classes, and other classes that indicate a string schedule. So once again the "NEUTRAL" metric of what classes you took favors -- White and Asian students again.
3. TEST OPTIONAL -- Occurs for a couple of main reasons. #1 -- it allows you to allow in legacy and donor students without having to over-rule the metrics that used to matter. Prior to the U of Michigan lawsuit about 15 years ago, they actually said what the formula was. GPA*X + SAT/ACT percentile rank *Y + Strength of schedule + Activities score = Raw academic score. Above a certain number you were in. Below a certain number you were definitively out, unless an athletic department used one of their exceptions for you. In the middle, then they look at all the other stuff: recommendations, etc. Without that lower cut score, you can let in donor families. #2 (and #1 at most institutions) it increases the number of applicants which accomplishes multiple goals. One is additional revenue but the net profit per rejected student is small. The bigger benefit is that the higher the percentage of rejected students, the more the school moves up the rankings by US News. By allowing your weakest students to not submit scores, the average ACT/SAT score of incoming students also goes up, which also increases the US News rating (it's like a teacher that allows you to drop your lowest quiz grade). Test optional has actually led to a higher percentage of White/Asian students on campus because those parents know how to play the game.

The ACT/SAT are not perfect, but universal access in school to one of the two tests does actually increases the number of underrepresneted groups because more students find out that they can hack it.

Don't blame the thermometer for your high fever if you have Covid and don't blame the standardized tests for showing the inequities of our education system.

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Response to JT45242 (Reply #4)

Tue May 12, 2020, 10:40 AM

10. I agree with your post

Having just gone through this with my daughter starting college in the fall.

We had a college advisor explain the reasoning behind the "test-optional" schools. It sounds like an accommodation to kids that test poorly but it is definitely an advantage to the schools to move up the rankings.

There are a lot of problems in the system for college admission but they are trying to deal with even greater issues in the high school system as a whole. Removing the only broad measure of comparing kids won't change the structural differences in why those kids have had differing educational experiences to begin with. The best they can do is take it under consideration and give additional weight to those other environmental factors.

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Response to JT45242 (Reply #4)

Tue May 12, 2020, 11:24 AM

12. I do not believe that the tests provide "a common meter stick"

because some students spend an entire year (or more) preparing to take the tests, i.e. being tutored, taking practice tests, etc., all of which costs money, while other students don't have the money for such preparation. This eliminates any equality of measurement. The tests need to go away. They are a tool of the past, and it's time me to move forward.

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Response to alp227 (Original post)

Tue May 12, 2020, 10:04 AM

5. Good riddance...success of these exams are more a function of the parents involvement

I’m know of parents who started prepping Eire kids o these exams in 6th grade

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Response to Dream Girl (Reply #5)

Tue May 12, 2020, 10:16 AM

6. Success in life is also more a function of the parents' involvement

As are grades in high school, attendance, and good civil behavior. The fact is, parents are, without hesitation, the most important predictor of how kids will do in school -- and life. Not remotely fair to kids from single (or no) family homes.

But such is life. If you come up with a better model than a stable nuclear family, do tell.

The ACT/SAT are, by no means, perfect tests.

But there is a giant correlation between how well you do on those tests and how well you do in college.

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Response to MosheFeingold (Reply #6)

Tue May 12, 2020, 10:22 AM

7. My point is that they are totally gamed. How are they predictive of anything?

Are they does is put otherwise deserving kids at a disadvantage. Are you are okay with this?

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Response to Dream Girl (Reply #7)

Tue May 12, 2020, 10:34 AM

9. You remind me of my younger brother

Last edited Tue May 12, 2020, 11:09 AM - Edit history (1)

He was a math tutor to the much richer Jewish families than we were. Whizz kid, my brother. He got mad that he was helping a not-so-brilliant kids get into college, so he quit. As a result, my brother did not have money to go to college and got drafted. Went to Korea, lost his foot. Expensive bit of principle, that.

Yes, preparation helps. But I disagree that "they are totally gamed". Yes, some study and tutoring can help on the tests, especially with math. But then the kids are better at math. So they are better prepared for college, and do better. That's not gamesmanship. That's preparation.

The "otherwise deserving" kids are simply not as prepared -- yes, by circumstances beyond their control (most often, parents who did not force them to prepare). Yes, that's horribly unfair.

But so is life. When I want a plumber (or a doctor or a lawyer), I want one that is really good. I don't really care if they got a leg up on the competition by having a better home life.

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Response to MosheFeingold (Reply #6)

Tue May 12, 2020, 10:24 AM

8. I have heard that don't prediction long term success

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Response to alp227 (Original post)

Tue May 12, 2020, 11:07 AM

11. Tests aren't the best predictor of college success.

Research says that family income best predicts college success. “What’s the most important indicator of whether or not a student will graduate from college? According to Vice Provost David Laude at the University of Austin (UT), it isn’t how hard a student studies or how well they did in high school.

Instead, the most important indicator of whether or not a student will graduate from college is largely out of his or her control: household income.”

“According to a 2015 report from the Pell Institute, 77 percent of students from high-income backgrounds graduated from college in 2013. In comparison, only nine percent of low-income students earned their degree that same year.”
From https://www.americaspromise.org/news/pbs-newshour-biggest-predictor-college-success-family-income

Standardized tests like the SAT and the ACT are supposed to be language neutral, but they are not. Children who grow up in homes with a comfortable family income have opportunities to visit museums, to travel, and to have educational opportunities that poor children do not have. Children with economic advantages internalize language within the context of their experiences. Thus, when they see that that language in standardized tests, they instantly understand meaning and context where a child without similar experience will not. An example from a high-stakes test development that I remember from years ago was the words “service dog.” Most economically advantaged students understood the purpose of a service dog and could answer the question. Most economically disadvantaged students could not, so the question was eliminated. But test writers have many assumptions about what test takers should know that are based on what they perceive as common language but may not be.

We all rely on knowledge of vocabulary to make meaning of what we read. When a lot of that knowledge comes from economically successful parents who not only model language acquisition but provide opportunities to expand language and understanding, children of such parents will be advantaged when it comes to standardized tests like the ACT and SAT. Does that mean that poor children without these advantages who may be very smart but not have the language skills to do well on those tests should be excluded from college?

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Response to alp227 (Original post)

Tue May 12, 2020, 11:52 AM

13. Finland has the best public schools in the world. They don't use standardized tests.

This is a step in the right direction.

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Response to Aristus (Reply #13)

Tue May 12, 2020, 04:02 PM

14. They did well on a PISA.

They have a standardized exit exam when you finish high school.

They usually have a separate college entrance exam.

I've seen peoples study for the Czech equivalent. The prevailing attitude in Czechia was that out of high school the entrance exams were passable with a bit of work. Slack off for 9-10 months, have a gap year, and the exams become a lot harder and the review more of a problem.

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Response to Igel (Reply #14)

Tue May 12, 2020, 04:31 PM

15. Finnish students only take that exam if they want to.

It's not mandatory.

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