The SAT Problem

Earlier this week I wrote about the odd situation in Long Island where one college student may have taken SAT examinations for multiple high school kids. Many looked at this problem as a reason to increase the security at the examination sessions.

Wrong solution, says Ben Steverman at Bloomberg News. As Steverman writes:

The alleged cheating scandal is “part and parcel of the test score arms race out there now,” says Robert Schaeffer, public education director at FairTest, a nonprofit that monitors the testing industry. “Kids believe they need to raise scores by any means possible.” Says Elizabeth Wissner-Gross, an international educational strategist hired to help students prepare for college: “People are desperate to get their kids into certain colleges.”

If students such as the alleged cheaters are cynical about college admissions, it’s because “students understand it’s a system they can game,” says Wake Forest University Professor Joseph Soares.

And if students get really cynical, the moral implications of cheating start to look a little ridiculous. Boosting an SAT score can dramatically improve admissions and scholarship possibilities.

And if a student can pay $8,400 to get one-on-one tutoring to work hard to improve his SAT scores by 100 points or so, why not just pay $1,500 to get someone else to take the test? Either way, it’s not that the high school student is any smarter or better prepared for higher education; he’s merely returning higher numbers to the colleges he wants to attend.

Maybe colleges are just paying too much attention to SAT scores.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer