Editorial: Readjusting standardized testing

Changes to the SAT could aid admissions

By TNH Editorial Staff
On March 25, 2014

This month, CollegeBoard announced upcoming changes for the often-dreaded SAT. Although the changes will not be implemented until 2016, the "redesigned SAT" is worth evaluating now as a needed update to the high school exam.

In two years, the standardized test will adjust its scoring format, reverting back to the 400- to 1600-point scale; currently, the test is scored up to 2400 points.

In addition to the point scale adjustment, there are eight key changes to the test, two of the most notable are that the current mandatory essay section will become optional and there will no longer be penalties for incorrect answers.

According to the College Board, students will find an SAT that is "more focused and useful than ever" in 2016.

However, no matter how many updates and adjustments are made to the standardized test, students are unlikely to consider the test "useful;" hopefully, though, universities will find the test to be more useful in their admissions processes, which is where the use of the test is truly important.

The SAT - a requirement for admission to the University of New Hampshire (and most American universities) - is reportedly not currently heavily considered in the admissions process.

UNH Director of Admissions Rob McGann, told The New Hampshire that "UNH does not assign a lot of value [or] significance to the SAT or ACT in the admissions process," partially due to uneven advantages that the test gives to some students because of family income, parents' educational level, race and ethnicity.

If the test has been acknowledged as unbalanced or imperfect, what good does a required assessment do if academic institutions do not think it is a useful resource for admitting students to college?

The university states that, "SAT or ACT scores aid in our determination of admissions eligibility, merit scholarships and admission to the University's Honors Program."

While this is a valuable use for the test results, the results in this context are still going to be indicative of a student's family's income, parents' educational level, race and ethnicity; how is it better to base scholarships or other honors off of test results that may not evenly evaluate students?

By adapting the test structure and content to be more representative of high school students' curriculum, CollegeBoard is hopefully reducing some of the outside influences that can set some students' scores unjustly higher than others based off of factors out of students' control.

While some have argued that the changes to the SAT are making the test easier for high school students, aligning it more closely with students' high school curriculum seems like a fair method to measure high school students' preparedness for college.

There will always be outside factors that allow some students to be better prepared for the SAT and other standardized tests than others, but aligning the test with high school curriculum is a small way to make the test more fair - or standardized - for students across the country.

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