Standardized Tests, No Longer the Standard
by Alexandra Levy, staff writer
SEPTEMBER 2021 – High school students are no longer required to submit SAT and ACT scores to two-thirds of American universities, according to the Washington Post.
Throughout the pandemic, schools and standardized testing facilities were closed. As a result, numerous colleges, including all eight Ivy League universities, will not require any standardized testing scores for freshman 2021-2022 applicants.
This year, standardized tests have resumed, but various schools have permanently implemented test score-optional applications.
“Standardized tests aren’t a good measure of authentic learning,” said Mrs. Whitney Mihalik, an eleventh grade history teacher at Bio-Med Science Academy. “You cannot necessarily assume that the test is measuring exactly what a teacher taught. Different teachers teach at different levels.”
Mihalik has assisted students with ACT preparation for seven years. She agreed with the universities’ decision.
“Test-optional applications gave the graduating classes of 2020-2021 an opportunity to go to some of the colleges that previously would not have accepted them due to an ACT score,” said Mihalik. “The test is literally built to trick you. And so some of my smartest students don’t do well on the ACT because they just don’t test well. You know, some tests really just measure whether or not you can handle anxiety and testing.”
Senior Marianna Atanmo added, “I love test-optional. I applied test-optional. I think it’s the perfect opportunity for someone who doesn’t do well to not be evaluated by something that truly represents them, but if you do score well I like that you have the option to report it because it can open more doors to getting scholarships or a better financial aid package.”
SAT and ACT tutor Virginia Reed commented, “I think test-optional is a benefit for most students, not just first-generation students. Even though colleges and universities may say ‘test optional,’ they are still using other tools to assess a student’s ability to succeed.”
Reed has worked with students through the past three revisions of the SAT. She runs a self-owned business, giving her the flexibility she needs in order to provide multiple education services. The services she offers include but are not limited to: assisting students in college essays, tutoring young students, teaching for organizations, and she has been court-appointed to tutor students.
The SAT and ACT have been mandated in college applications since 1946, reported Time magazine. The pandemic may have popularized test-optional applications, but the tests’ ability to measure student’s intelligence has been under question for years. The Public Broadcasting Service reported in Sept. of 2019, that 1,050 colleges and universities had already implemented test-optional applications.
Mihalik argued, “I don’t think that universities would have gone test-optional without the pandemic because the College Board is a large educational monopoly that has a really strong hold on the education system in America.”
Reed agreed and explained, “Even during COVID, colleges and universities still required SAT or ACT scores to enter a specific academic major or apply for a specific academic scholarship. Top tiered institutions follow a set of guidelines such as accepting students in the top 10% of their class, requiring a 3.9 + GPA and a higher-than-average SAT or ACT score, and recognizing outstanding extracurricular activities.”
The College Board was founded in 1899 and released the SAT in 1926. The test was created by eugenicist (study of human selective breeding for desired traits) and creator of the modern IQ test, Carl Brigham. Brigham told the National Education Association that creating the standardized test was in the name of “upholding the racial caste system.”
Since its formation, standardized testing has continuously put people of color and low-income students at a significant disadvantage in college applications, leading to less diversity in higher education. Preparation for the SAT and ACT is an expensive luxury for students; the Princeton Review charges up to $4,500 for their SAT prep system. Moreover, the Teacher College Press confirmed, the scores show a greater correlation to the parent of a student’s income than the student’s ability to learn.
Mihalik concluded, “Without standardized testing, I think we’ll have a more diverse body of higher educated students. Standardized testing generally affects or hurts people of color and students in poverty. Those students already have things that keep them from going to college. And then the ACT is just another one of those stepping stones. By getting rid of testing for a lot of schools, I think more of those students will get to go to colleges that they wouldn’t have before. And so we might have more people who are students of color [and]more people who have been in poverty that now have a new opportunity for higher education.”