gramcracker's Entry:

user page: 1900
Major: Social Policy and Pre-Medicine
School: Northwestern University
Status: Senior

Just You, Me, and the SAT

One day I’m gonna get my big break. Some big corporate/academic/non-profit/governmental bigwig will come across MetaFilter, read one of my comments, and think, “Boy, this is one smart cookie." Said bigwig will then contact me, and enthusiastically cheer over the phone, “Graham, we want you on our team—we need you for our big plans to make the world a BETTER PLACE!”

I’ll sigh thoughtfully. I’ll pause...for dramatic effect. Then, acting as if I’m great at making life decisions spontaneously, even though I'm a type-A person and spontaneity usually isn't my strong suit, “Oh, yeah, I guess I could do that.” And well, would you ever guess it—I end up getting a national health care system implemented in the US, make environmental conservation more than “a personal virtue,” fund more comprehensive child care solutions, and add a few more national holidays (would anyone object to a “Celebration of Music” holiday like they have in France?)

Until that one day comes, however, I’ll keep on posting for other reasons—like when I think I’ve got some lesser-known knowledge that the MeFi community would appreciate and learn from. It’s a reciprocal thing. I soak up knowledge from fellow MeFiers every day; I give back where and when I can. So, that’s where I was coming from when I came upon this thread, about the UC schools eliminating the SAT from their admissions.

In my opinion, the SAT is a biased test that continues to yield to the privileged and ignore the underprivileged. I had just taken a course the quarter before on Educational Policy, where we discussed the SATs (and other tests) at great length; while I was (and still am not) an SAT expert, I think I learned more about it than your average (or even above-average) Joe. I started out in the thread just trying to respond to why the SAT is biased against the economically disadvantaged.

After I became actively involved in the thread, I wanted to inform people of several other issues and topics to consider in understanding the SAT. The thread’s participants seemed very interested in understanding everyone’s point of view, and I wanted to keep the discussion open and involved. (Y’never know when a great thread will just fade out. I hate it when that happens.) We continued to discuss educational policies (magnet schools, the upper intellectual crust, etc.) toward the end of the thread. It was a good discussion of other education policies in effect in the US.

I think my comments on the SAT expressed my dissatisfaction with it as an indicator of intelligence, first-year college success, or whatever else ETS is claiming the SAT is useful for today. The SAT has its roots in Army intelligence tests meant to separate people (mostly racial minorities). No one knows what the “average” score should be for anyone but white males, since the original tests used to score people were taken only by white males. And despite ETS claims, others argue that it only measures a very small portion of the abilities and skills needed to succeed in college. The most blatant problem for me seems to be that SAT scores can be improved with books, classes, and CD-ROMs. That just sticks out like a sore thumb in terms of economic equality between test-takers. Hell, I’m sure I benefited from my parents’ middle-class status. I got an SAT book and CD-ROM.

I hope my discussion helped others understand the SAT from what I know. I hope, over the course of my grand total (drum roll...) 80 comments, 5 posts, that one of them made someone think. Not a “You’re right/you’re wrong;” just a “I can see where you’re coming from,” or a “That’s something I didn’t know.” You can call me an idealist, dork, or Graham, but I truly think if we can listen to each other, and understand each other’s perspectives, we’d be on our way to a better world.

Mr. or Mrs. Bigwig, if you’re out there, I’m waiting by my phone.

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