SAT: Unfair? Elitist? Overrated? All Of The Above

New research suggests that colleges pay even more attention to the dreaded SAT than we thought. Full Story
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Tommy

Ware, MA

#1 May 29, 2009
Just what do you suggest to replace the SAT test, Mr. Green? A touchy feely test that your kids will pass with flying colors?
Bill Smith

Mount Pleasant, SC

#2 May 29, 2009
This is just more evidence that a government “education” will in no way prepare you for higher learning.
willy lump lump

Winsted, CT

#3 May 29, 2009
$3299 for 20 hours equals about $160 an hour. If the parents spent some time with the kids tutoring them, instead of gallivanting all over town, they'd all be would be way ahead of the game. There are all kinds of much cheaper materials available, but require some input from the "ole" folks.
frosty

Oakville, CT

#4 May 29, 2009
Visiting campuses, you learn that the SAT is one of many things admissions officers look at and seldom the most important. Most important, they say, high school scholarship demonstrated in the GPA, AP and honors courses taken, AP test scores. Involvement outside the classroom is also a very important consideration -- music, athletics, volunteer work, a job, clubs, scouts, etc. Also highly important is the student essay, occasionally, but less frequently, followed by an interview. Doing something productive during summers, especially after junior year, is another thing they look at. The SAT is still important at many colleges however some very fine universities claim they don't even consdier SAT scores--you get the idea that it truly is just one of many factors.

As to Schmidt's cynical claim that "people out to get an unfair edge are part of a distorted admission process at top schools", I can only say that successful people (I take this to mean the middle class) indeed do have more resources than others and they are more than happy, in fact most feel an obligation, to give their children the best advantage they can. Is this unfair? Would it be fair to your children not to?

His further claim that "most elite higher-education institutions systematically favor people from privileged backgrounds who display selfish, cutthroat behavior." is way off the mark unless you consider the entire middle class "people from privileged backgrounds", which I don't. Children from truly priveleged backgrounds seldom have to even take the SAT to gain admission to elite schools. As to the selfish, cutthroat behavior, prepping for and taking the SAT hardly qualify and such behaviors are not confined to the priveleged anyway.

P.S. Low cost and free SAT prep tools are available to anyone and should be known by high school administrators everywhere. Or just get on the internet and type "SAT PREP" and see what comes up.
Parent

Wethersfield, CT

#5 May 29, 2009
Smart parents have smart kids and provide them with enriching academic opportunities. So what? Life is unfair.

The SAT is one of several valid qualifications a college can look at to admit students suited to that school. Think athletes who get recruited didn't have parents who spent thousands on elite camps and equipment? Think top musicians didn't have parents who spent tens of thousands for lessons and top flight instruments?

The pursuit of excellence is costly. Parents and children spend their time and money investing in success. They forgo other opportunities and the results are never guaranteed. If someone wants to study for the SAT alone, in a class, or with a tutor no one should have any issues with that. Anyone who wants to can borrow prep books from school or the library and do the same, even if they are poor.

Don't berate parents who want the best for their children.
Citizen

Hartford, CT

#6 May 29, 2009
I would suggest that you look into the issue at inner city high schools in Hartford, where you will find a huge disparity in test scores compared to wealthier suburban communities. Numerous studies have been done which find a very strong correlation between family income and SAT scores. The higher the family income the higher the test scores. Further, in Hartford most students cannot afford to pay for the SAT exam $45, let alone the cost of a prep course.
reality check

Storrs Mansfield, CT

#7 May 29, 2009
All that hand-wringing, and I bet Mr. Green has already signed up his daughter for private tutoring.
ReadingPublic

Wethersfield, CT

#8 May 29, 2009
To Citizen: Fee waivers are available for the SAT and the information is prominently advertised on the College Board website. As for the costs of a prep course, there are free ones available, too, often in school. Unfortunately, the priorities of many students are phones, ipods, fancy sneakers, etc.
Power to the People

Durham, CT

#9 May 29, 2009
Mr. Green, your white privilege is showing. Your children will ALWAYS have an advantage in school - what are you whining about?

Buy a few study-on-your-own books, tell your daughter to get away from the computer and cell phone and Facebook and socializing and study hard for a few weeks.

Sheesh.

It's unbelievable that you - a middle-class white guy is complaining about it being "not fair" for your kids. Is your daughter really Ivy League material? Do you really want her to go there? No? Then stop your whining. There are thousands of colleges in the U.S. and one will be right for your kid.

(And yes, this is being written from a white mom who doesn't whine and wouldn't waste $3299 on that junk. My kids have been taught good study habits and know how to buckle down when it's important, like the SAT.)
WH Isic

Newington, CT

#10 May 29, 2009
Citizen wrote:
I would suggest that you look into the issue at inner city high schools in Hartford, where you will find a huge disparity in test scores compared to wealthier suburban communities. Numerous studies have been done which find a very strong correlation between family income and SAT scores. The higher the family income the higher the test scores. Further, in Hartford most students cannot afford to pay for the SAT exam $45, let alone the cost of a prep course.
In Hartford, A large percentage do not greaduate from high school, so why waste the $45. on the SAT's when it can be spent on DRUGS. Intercity parents do not seem to care about their kids education. If they did, why not pay attention to where they are at night.
WH Isic

Newington, CT

#11 May 29, 2009
Sorry, saying drugs is unfair. I should have said BULLETS.
ruoy a bmud ssa

New York, NY

#12 May 29, 2009
Citizen wrote:
I would suggest that you look into the issue at inner city high schools in Hartford, where you will find a huge disparity in test scores compared to wealthier suburban communities. Numerous studies have been done which find a very strong correlation between family income and SAT scores. The higher the family income the higher the test scores. Further, in Hartford most students cannot afford to pay for the SAT exam $45, let alone the cost of a prep course.
Sell the nice rims. Dont get a manicure.
Sick-o-Congress Blowhards

Hartford, CT

#13 May 29, 2009
Talk about those "poor" kids all you want. How many of them have cell phones? How many have cable TV. People set their priorities based on how they spend their money. Want a good college education? 1 month's cell phone bill or 1 month's cable TV bill could pay for the SAT test. Typical Liberal attitude....
elizabethonline

New York, NY

#14 May 29, 2009
I don't mean to cross pollinate, but Sue Shellenbarger over at the WSJ took the SAT last month on a dare from her son and I thought the article was pretty interesting; you can find it here: http://online.wsj.com/article/work_and_family... .

I take the test as an adult every year, too, as a tutor (yes, I'm the author of Outsmarting the SAT, which is why I give a hoot) in the interest of keeping tabs on what's on the test and re-experiencing the dreadful test-taking experience.

I agree that giant test prep programs are a disaster--and even wrote a relatively snarky blog about it a while back, which you can see here: http://www.elizabethonline.com/2009/princeton...
Your best bet is to help your child review all the math, grammar, and vocabulary that's likely to be on the test, which is not always the objective of a giant one-size-fits-all course. Moreover, an understanding of the test and question styles can absolutely raise scores, so checking out the College Board's sample materials is a no-brainer. Lastly, mental toughness training in the same vein you'd use to help your child become a better batter or free-throw-shooter is totally applicable to pre-test-day jitters.

Thanks so much for contributing to this important topic-- I'm glad you're raising an eyebrow and examining what all this prep may or may not mean. It's high time we turn the SAT back into a standardized test that assesses skills and not a terrifying free-for-all that does more harm than good.
David

Show Low, AZ

#15 May 29, 2009
I want a test with "empathy"
The bad guy

Berlin, CT

#16 May 29, 2009
So much whining. Your daughter will learn the same things at a state school as she will at an "Ivy League" school, just without the prestige and bills.

Or, and here is a novel thought, you can make HER pay for HER education. I just graduated and my loan bills are coming in, and even owing $40k, my debt is a lot, lot less than some of my friends who went to private schools and STILL can't find a job...

You shouldn't be worrying about your daughters education, she could be though.
Michael G

Plymouth, MN

#17 May 29, 2009
Imagine the world without SAT.
Without SAT, what would you use? Classroom grades? Surely you are not stupid enough to think grades are awarded to the class pet and the influential politician's child solely on merit? And some intelligent students simply can't get recognized in traditional schools; certain Myers-Briggs personality types, to say nothing of gender bias. Then there is grade creep. Maybe you're proud of a child's 100% average!! But how does that compare with another school's validictorian with 480% and every student has straight As. And they exist....
So you may not like SATs but they need to part of the mix because some students need them to be recognized and because they do provide a basis comparison where no other exists.
Rita

AOL

#18 May 29, 2009
elizabethonline wrote:
I don't mean to cross pollinate, but Sue Shellenbarger over at the WSJ took the SAT last month on a dare from her son and I thought the article was pretty interesting; you can find it here: http://online.wsj.com/article/work_and_family... .
I take the test as an adult every year, too, as a tutor (yes, I'm the author of Outsmarting the SAT, which is why I give a hoot) in the interest of keeping tabs on what's on the test and re-experiencing the dreadful test-taking experience.
I agree that giant test prep programs are a disaster--and even wrote a relatively snarky blog about it a while back, which you can see here: http://www.elizabethonline.com/2009/princeton...
Your best bet is to help your child review all the math, grammar, and vocabulary that's likely to be on the test, which is not always the objective of a giant one-size-fits-all course. Moreover, an understanding of the test and question styles can absolutely raise scores, so checking out the College Board's sample materials is a no-brainer. Lastly, mental toughness training in the same vein you'd use to help your child become a better batter or free-throw-shooter is totally applicable to pre-test-day jitters.
Thanks so much for contributing to this important topic-- I'm glad you're raising an eyebrow and examining what all this prep may or may not mean. It's high time we turn the SAT back into a standardized test that assesses skills and not a terrifying free-for-all that does more harm than good.
Thank you for the great post! I had never thought of actually taking the test as an adult but it's certainly an awesome idea. My daughter is only 12 but she is really pushing to graduate high school when she is sixteen. Her plan is to finish her bachelors when she is 20, take a break and have some fun and then go back for her master's in her early-mid twenties. I don't know if it's too early to start prepping her, as it were for the SAT. We're homeschoolers, so I suppose I should ask a fellow homeschooler. LOL

Thanks for the great post and insight.:)
Frank Costello

Stamford, CT

#19 May 29, 2009
We could have the New Haven folks just through out the results if Mr. Green's not happy with them...
G-dude

Newington, CT

#20 May 29, 2009
Bla-bla-bla. Get a real job, Green, and quit whining.

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