Cheat sheet
September 22, 2016 3:04 PM   Subscribe

In a multi-part series, Reuters looks inside the business of standardized testing and college admissions. The parts so far:

Multiple Choices Leaks of the SAT exam have been far more pervasive than its owner acknowledges. And the new SAT is vulnerable to a security hole that's widely exploited in Asia.
The Big Hack New SAT booklets have leaked on the Internet. The SAT’s security failures are prompting some college officials to question the validity of exam scores.
Deception 101 A cheating ring at the University of Iowa demonstrates the damage being done by a booming Chinese cottage industry to the U.S. higher education system.
Special Access The maker of the ACT test has a program that is offering foreign students a surprising perk: a sneak peek at the all-important college entrance exam.
At Risk Reuters has obtained hundreds of unpublished questions from the new SAT. The College Board is moving to contain the impact of the leak - which experts called one of the worst lapses in testing history.
Word Problems Although the organization's own research showed the new SAT was overloaded with wordy math problems, the test makers pushed forward anyway, documents reveal.
posted by Lexica (14 comments total) 34 users marked this as a favorite
 
College admission essays and "holistic evaluation" were implemented largely to exclude undesirable (Jewish) applicants. Standardized tests, unsurprisingly, are horribly corrupted and regressive.

What would be a fair way for colleges and universities to evaluate and admit students?
posted by MengerSponge at 3:30 PM on September 22, 2016 [4 favorites]


What would be a fair way for colleges and universities to evaluate and admit students?

To look only at high school marks, but this of course just shifts the corruption from the SATs of the world to high school teachers and administrators.

But to the best of my knowledge it's still the case the domestic applicants to Canadian universities don't need anything beyond their high school transcripts to apply to Canadian universities. The universities know all the Canadian high schools, have them calibrated and admit students accordingly.

Or do what the University of Waterloo does and administer your own set of math contests (Waterloo has a dedicated Math faculty unlike most universities which stick math into some existing faculty).

So basically shove the problem down on secondary educators or take it on as a first-party problem.
posted by GuyZero at 3:42 PM on September 22, 2016 [2 favorites]


What would be a fair way for colleges and universities to evaluate and admit students?

There is no magic method which is incorruptible. Holistic assessments (despite their racist history) are probably better than pure testing but all admissions systems are gameable by folks with enough means.

It's more important to make sure a broader array of public colleges are good, free, well supported, and well-funded so admissions freakout goes back to only being a thing for elite signalling and everyone else can just get a nice useful degree at a solid state school and go on with their lives.
posted by feckless at 4:17 PM on September 22, 2016 [17 favorites]


"Grades only" always seems a little backward to me - shouldn't we be considering way more factors in admissions, not fewer? Maybe throw in more of a purely random factor, even. Definitely more explicit outreach to students from different backgrounds.

Obviously this is quite the opposite of the the current game of colleges competing for the scariest numbers.
posted by atoxyl at 6:13 PM on September 22, 2016 [2 favorites]


I've been following this very intently and have had a few conversations with the reporters. Terrific, dogged reporting by Reuters.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 7:35 PM on September 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


The universities know all the Canadian high schools, have them calibrated and admit students accordingly.

I can tell you, this is absolutely not the case in the US.

I totally agree with feckless, the only way to change the game is to encourage additional capacity in quality higher ed. Right now, for elite institutions all the incentives are to increase their exclusivity. Maybe make their tax-exempt status conditional on increasing enrollment at least in line with population increases. And fund more quality public institutions to compete.
posted by ghharr at 8:01 PM on September 22, 2016 [2 favorites]


What would be a fair way for colleges and universities to evaluate and admit students?

Let them all in and let them flunk or fly in year one. The best way to judge performance is to judge actual performance.
posted by srboisvert at 11:20 PM on September 22, 2016 [4 favorites]


If they did that we'd be complaining about being stuck with student loans that could never be paid back for yet another class of people. I suppose they'd be better off than some since it would only be one year's (or even one semester's) worth rather than four or five years.
posted by wierdo at 1:16 AM on September 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


To look only at high school marks, but this of course just shifts the corruption from the SATs of the world to high school teachers and administrators.

My (US) high school did away with class rank because grade inflation was so rampant that a B average put you in the bottom half of students and they eventually concluded this was having a deleterious effect on college admissions. It was better to tick the "school does not compute class rank" box.

(This did have the nice side effect of not penalising the kids at the top of the class for taking things like orchestra, which didn't have an honors version with its extra half a GPA point.)
posted by hoyland at 5:04 AM on September 23, 2016 [2 favorites]


For a lot of professional certs, the entire question pool is published before hand-- there are just thousands of them so memorizing them is infeasible. I always thought it was a neat way to short circuit cheating.
posted by miyabo at 8:33 AM on September 23, 2016


That would never work. Students would definitely memorize them. Your "infeasible" is my cheesecake.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 3:30 PM on September 23, 2016


Yeah, if you think students wouldn't be spending day and night reviewing those on flashcards then you possess an envious naivete about the current state of the US educational system.
posted by schroedinger at 1:31 AM on September 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


(enviable, surely)
posted by Joseph Gurl at 4:23 PM on September 24, 2016


yes
I don't make good words at 4:30am
(or 1:13am)
posted by schroedinger at 10:13 PM on September 24, 2016


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