At one point, standardized tests, the SAT and the ACT, were considered the gold standard for evaluating college preparedness — but are they still held in such high esteem today?
Following the news that The College Board, the company that administers the tests, is eliminating the essay and subject-specific tests, Yahoo Finance, together with The Harris Poll, asked 1,000 readers their thoughts on standardized testing.
An overwhelming 71% of respondents said they believe that standardized testing is a good way to evaluate students, and 57% believe the tests are accurate predictors of how well students will do with college-level work. However, for a variety of reasons, 60% of Americans agree that U.S. colleges and universities should stop requiring standardized test scores for applicants altogether.
A growing list of schools have made the SAT and ACT optional for the class of 2025, as test centers were shut down to contain the spread of Covid-19.
One of those schools is Harvard College, which just fielded a record of more than 57,000 applications for the fall. Dozens of other highly selective schools, including Cornell and Princeton have also seen a rise in applications after making the standardized tests optional for admission.
College Board CEO, David Coleman joined Yahoo Finance Live to discuss the elimination of the essay and subject tests. Amid the pandemic, there’s “never been a better time for us to simplify and reduce the demands on students,” he said.
“There was a time when [those tests] offered opportunity to a lot of students who didn’t have them, but with the growth and breadth of advanced placement, that argument no longer holds.” He added that a “careful examination of the skills of writing and editing remains in the core exam.”
Matt Larriva is the founder of Powerful Prep and an expert in the pre-college process. He spoke to Yahoo Finance about the recent SAT testing changes and what role they actually play in predicting college preparedness.
“They’re not the best indicator of what a student can do academically. We know that to be true from the data; the problem is, are they a useful indicator of what a student could do academically? Yeah. Are they really biased in some administrations and some proctoring in some socioeconomic classes? Yes. Unfortunately, they are.”
Larriva is not the only one who believes that bias exists when it comes to standardized testing. According to Yahoo Finance/Harris poll results, ethnic minorities are more likely to see bias across both wealth and race: 36% of white Americans and 43% of Asian Americans, most African and Hispanic Americans (61% and 57%, respectively) believe that standardized tests are inherently biased in favor of white and Asian Americans. In comparison, 36% of White Americans and 45% of Asian Americans, most African and Hispanic Americans (67% and 54%, respectively) believe that standardized tests are inherently biased against Black and Hispanic Americans.
But when it comes to testing inequality, most Americans believe that affluence has more impact on standardized test bias than race: 51% of Americans polled agree that standardized tests are inherently biased in favor of affluent students. And 54% of households with incomes of $100,000 a year and above agree that such tests favor the wealthy.
Many Americans believe that grades are more important than test scores: 62% of those polled agree that high school grades are a better measure of a student’s college success than standardized test scores. Polling data shows that 68% of students, and 73% of young Americans between the ages of 18-34 are even more likely to support using grades over test scores.
Many Americans believe a more balanced approach must be found when it comes to measuring college preparedness.
Aside from high school grades, which polled at 58%, interviews at 49%, teacher recommendations at 47%, and academic/extracurricular awards at 41%, were the top metrics Americans said should evaluate students instead of standardized test scores.
Those who are prospective or current college students support a more holistic approach to admissions. Compared to 17% of the general public, 26% of students say race/ethnicity should be considered by schools that don’t require standardized test scores.