The Hechinger Report on college admission testing
Like most education-focused news outlets, the Hechinger Report claims that it “provides in-depth, fact-based, unbiased reporting.” Yet, somehow, it usually ends up dishing the same old formulaic propaganda supportive of education insiders.
Their October 9 story, “Questioning their fairness, a record number of colleges stop requiring the SAT and ACT,” is a case in point. For the thousandth time, they present the extreme anti-testing group, The National Center for Fair and Open Testing (a.k.a., FairTest) as an objective source of factual information and accept whatever they are told from other education institution insiders at face value. And, because they also spoke with some folk affiliated with one of the testing companies, they satisfied themselves that they got “the other side” of the story.
Yet, here are some very relevant points that this story, like almost all media stories on college admission testing, leaves out:
1. Whereas college admission test scores are correlated with socioeconomic status (SES), so are most of the other factors considered by admission directors. High school grade point average (GPA) is at least as strongly correlated. Extracurricular activities, recommendations, and writing samples are likely more strongly correlated with SES. Therefore, getting rid of college admission testing will not benefit lower SES applicants in general, and will hurt the chances of the “diamonds in the rough” that the tests are designed to help.
2. By dropping the admission test requirement, colleges raise their average admission test scores in competitive rankings, such as those of U.S. News & World Report. That’s because it’s the applicants with the lowest scores who choose not to report them. Applicants take the tests first to see how well they do before they decide to report them or not.
3. FairTest has been declaring a dramatic rise in the number of test-optional colleges for decades. Yet, over the same time period, the number of college admission tests taken has risen substantially.
4. Included in FairTest’s list of test-optional colleges are bible colleges, pilot schools and other focused vocational programs, and many colleges that make test scores optional only under special circumstances.