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As a newspaper columnist, Nancy Devlin, Ph.D. has written over 700 articles on subjects related to education and parenting. Welcome to her Classroom!

The Tyranny of the SAT

The Scholastic Appitude Test (SAT) produced by the Educational Testing  Service measures verbal and mathematical abilities by means of multiple choice questions.  Since most college admission offices use these scores to determine eligibility for admission, it is very important that high school students do well on the tests.

As a result, every high school student and teacher knows that the SAT test is the public’s final evaluation of whether the students, and, thus, the school have succeeded.  Some high schools hesitate to introduce new, and perhaps better, programs because such programs may adversely affect the SAT scores of their students.  In other words, why tamper with success even thought high SAT scores do not necessarily indicate that the curriculum is outstanding or that high scoring students are the brightest, best and most creative thinkers.  College admission officers who overemphasize the importance of these scores may be doing a disservice not only to their institutions but also to high school curricula and ultimately to students.

A great deal of pressure is put on high school students who know their academic future depends on three hours of testing. This is especially true of students who, who even though quite intelligent, are poor test takers because they do not do well under pressure or in timed situations.  As a result, students are forced to spend a great deal of time learning how to take the test and to get higher scores.  This is time that might profitably be spent in other academic endeavors.

Not only is there time involved in learning how to get higher scores, there is also money.  Many enterprising businesses have sprung up giving courses to help student gain higher scores.  The students take these courses after school thus adding an extra burden on them.  This is time well spent, however, if their goal is higher scores.  The question is: are these students better qualified for college than those who did not take the course?  If this is true, than high schools should be giving these courses not outside companies.  As a matter of fact, if high SAT scores are the ultimate goal of education, then all high schools should be teaching for the test.  Otherwise students who have the money to take the courses would have a decided advantage over student who could not afford them.

It is time to save high school students a great deal of unnecessary grief and time taking coaching courses.  It is also time to free high schools from the unnecessary tyranny imposed on them to produce students who are good multiple choice test takers rather than creative learners and thinkers.

Posted in Educational Reform, From Experience, Getting the Most For Your Child, Parenting, Teachers | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

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