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SAT Scores Cause for Concern?

Photo by albertogp123 via Flickr.

Photo by albertogp123 via Flickr.

SAT results were released today, and Connecticut’s scores remained flat, as they did on average for the entire country. (Scores for individual Connecticut schools can be found here.) This has led to some doom and gloom responses from news outlets like The Atlantic, which titled its article on the subject, “This Year’s SAT Scores Are Out, and They’re Grim.”

Is so much negativity warranted? Valerie Strauss, writing for The Washington Post’s “The Answer Sheet” blog doesn’t think so. In her post, “Why the new SAT scores are meaningless,” Strauss says that even David Coleman, president of the College Board, which owns the SATs, has said the test needs to be redesigned.

What’s more, an increasing number of colleges and universities no longer require prospective students to submit SAT scores because they don’t think SATs are a strong predictor of college success. Thomas Rochon, the president of Ithaca College, wrote about his institution’s decision to no longer require the SAT for USNews earlier this month.

Our first realization was that test scores add relatively little to our ability to predict the success of our students. Studies undertaken by the SAT’s sponsor, the College Board, generally indicate that the SAT adds only modestly to the prediction of student success after high school GPA is taken into account. Our internal study showed similar results, validating that the loss of test score information at the time of admission makes very little difference in our ability to identify how successful applicants will later become as college students.

In addition, we know that some potential students are deterred from applying to colleges that require a test score because they are not comfortable taking standardized tests. In fact, groundbreaking research by psychologist Claude Steele, now dean for the School of Education at Stanford University, has shown that underrepresented groups are more likely than others to be put off by test score requirements.

How has it worked out for Ithaca College?  Rochon wrote, “We … enrolled a freshman class of over 1,800 students – 100 more than our target enrollment. The fall 2013 freshman class will be the most diverse in our history, with 22 percent of the class identifying themselves as members of underrepresented groups.”

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