Student Voices: Time to End Paid Testing in the Public Education System
The American school system is broken down. The privatization of student assessment systems dismantled the intention of public education to provide equal education for every student in the country. The College Board’s dismal educational monopoly has tarnished education’s role as a great equalizer. I grew up in Germany and have experienced a very different school system which, while not perfect at all, gives me a different perspective on this situation.
Before the coronavirus pandemic, 95% of colleges have mandated the SAT or ACT as an entry condition. The SAT, a multiple-choice test administered by the College Board, is scored out of 1,600, with the math and English subsections each representing a maximum of 800 points. This is a structurally flawed measure of academic ability because it ignores an important variable: background.
First, the SAT discriminates against students from low-income families; it charges $ 49.50 for the test itself, an additional $ 12 for the score report, and an additional $ 20 for the essay portion (which was required by competitive colleges before it was recently dropped by the College Board). SAT workbooks cost between $ 20 and $ 50 (I counted and bought a total of seven books), but they are outclassed by tutoring, which is between $ 45 and $ 100 per hour. . Students whose families can potentially invest thousands of dollars in tutoring find themselves at a clear advantage. Understandably, families exploited this process, as recent scandals across the country exposed how test proctors would accept bribes for medical student grades. While I’m not saying that such bribes are a common recurrence, it is evident that the SAT favors the wealthy and discriminates against low-income students by the very nature of its cost structure. It also creates racial inequalities. Test score data show Asian and White students consistently outperform Black and Hispanic students on the SAT.
Second, standardized tests does not accurately provide an objective and reliable assessment intellectual capacity and potential of a child. How could he? It is a multiple choice test. Cultural and socio-economic factors, unfamiliarity with testing methods, test anxiety, and other factors not taken into account can affect a student’s score. The SAT does not measure his intelligence; he measures his ability to master the SAT.
While many colleges, such as the University of Washington, have now adopted a temporary voluntary testing policy – meaning they don’t see the SAT as a deciding factor for applicants – the SAT is just the beginning. tip of the iceberg when it comes to inequalities within the education system. A recent study found that enrollment of black, Latino and Native American students increased by only 1% in approximately 100 colleges and universities that adopted a voluntary exam policy between 2005-2006 and 2015-2016.
Students from low-income backgrounds, who are disproportionately African American and Latino, have more difficult access to educational resources, period. While adopting a voluntary testing policy can certainly help, it’s only a drop in the bucket. With poorer access to education comes poorer access to the most relevant counselors, extracurricular activities, the Internet and advanced level exams. AP exams are subject tests, also administered by the College Board, which costs at least $ 95 each. These tests are so popular because a high score often allows students to earn college credit, potentially lowering the cost of a college education. To teach AP subjects, schools need certified AP instructors, and students, like the College Board, have to pay for testing (for reference, I took 10 AP exams).
I fully support access to AP testing. While the AP exams accurately test the complex knowledge of a field unlike the SAT, from microeconomics to art history, it is a paid system.
I grew up in the German education system where students spend three years preparing for a series of exams on each subject offered at school. They focus on up to two specific subjects – physical education, history, geography and biology – which then represent a higher percentage of their grade point average. Under the National Ministry of Education, the pupil does not pay a single penny and each pupil attending a given high school has equal access to the same material and the same examination subjects. External factors such as where a student lives and family wealth are less important than how one obtains his or her academic performance.
One thing is clear: the current American pay-to-win system is unfair and inequitable. It is easy to think that we should not change the current system as the alternatives are futile and costly, yet we must constantly try to improve the chances of American students left behind.