Published Online: August 6, 2012
Published in Print: August 8, 2012, as SAT Commentary Misses the Mark

Letter

SAT Commentary Misses the Mark

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To the Editor:

Like many pieces written by faith-based proponents of high-stakes testing, the Commentary by Jonathan Wai ignores readily available facts to make ideologically motivated arguments.

Mr. Wai, who works for a program that relies heavily on standardized-exam scores to identify “gifted and talented” students, argues that, of the “over 200,000” students who took the SAT as 7th graders, “a majority of them will likely reach within 100 to 200 points of a perfect score.” However, data published by the College Board, the SAT’s owner, show that just over 7,000 test-takers in the high school class of 2011 scored above 2300, and 25,500 nationally reached the 2200 score level.

These much-lower numbers undercut Mr. Wai’s claim that undergraduate-admissions offices need a “harder” test to select among those with top scores. Moreover, the measurement uncertainty in SAT results, as in other tests, is huge.

The College Board cautions admissions officers that gaps of as much as 130 points in the combined, three-part score do not necessarily reflect “true differences in ability.”

In fact, neither the SAT nor any other test is necessary to run a high-quality, selective admissions program. More than 850 accredited, bachelor’s-degree-granting colleges, including 140 ranked in the top tiers of their respective categories, now have test-score-optional policies for all or many applicants.

The real issue is not how to make the SAT harder, but why it should be required at all.

Bob Schaeffer
Public Education Director
National Center for Fair & Open Testing (FairTest)
Boston, Mass.

Vol. 31, Issue 37, Page 30

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