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.

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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