Monday, October 26, 2009

A World without the SATs

I am deeply engrossed in reading a book recommended by Jo Anne Simon, Esq., whose legal practice focuses on helping teens and older students deal with high stakes standardized tests, from the SATs and ACTs to professional licensing exams. The book, The Big Test: The Secret History of the American Meritocracy by Nicholas Lemann, was published in 1999 but the issues it presents are still very timely.

Lemann looks at how college admission testing became ubiquitous in the United States and how it created barriers for students from particular backgrounds as they sought to move on to college. We here at the Yellin Center are particularly concerned about the barriers for students with disabilities as they seek the testing accommodations they are entitled to under the law, and which the testing organizations often balk at providing.

We are pleased to see that growing numbers of colleges -- including some highly selective schools -- are making the SAT and ACT tests optional for their applicants. We applaud the work of the nonprofit group FairTest in working to demonstrate the problems with standardized exams and providing lists of schools that have dropped these exams as part of their admission decision.

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