The George Washington University will no longer require most undergraduate applicants to submit SAT or ACT test scores, effective Aug. 1.
With one sentence, the folks at GW made life just a little bit harder for standardized test manufacturers.
not just that another college has dropped the popular testing product
requirement. Doing so touched off the usual round of press. The folks at FairTest
reminded us that over 850 colleges and universities no longer require
students to jump through the old hoops. Valerie Strauss helpfully broke out some striking lists
of top-ranked (well, top-ranked by the not-entirely-believable US News
ranking system) schools that don't require students to plunk down good
money for a bad evaluation of their post-secondary prospects. Bowdoin!
Bryn Mawr! Wake Forest! Hey, even my own alma mater—way to go,
It's not just that this calls up all the old
objections, all the things we already knew about the tests. Cue the
regular research showing cultural and racial bias in the tests. Trot out the 2014 research showing that high school grades are better predictors of
college success than SAT's. Discuss the validity of tests so game-able
that an entire industry has sprung up around gaming them.
bigger problem is the continued drawing of blood. Like the god-king who
is nicked by a spear, the SAT and ACT are most hurt by the wound that
reveals they are not what they say they are.
For generations here
in the East, the SAT was just something you do. In the seventies, my
classmates and I didn't even ask where the SAT came from—as
far as we knew it was some sort of government-college co-operative,
mandated and required, like a driver's test or vaccinations. Even
"College Board" sounds like some sort of official regulatory agency.
testing companies have fought to maintain that illusion. David Coleman
and the College Board can still magically turn a drop in market share
into a referendum on America's education system. They've worked to market a racially biased instrument as a tool for social justice. And Coleman has stumped hard for the virtues of his new, improved version of the SAT, continuing his work to redefine what college-ready actually means.
They've also managed the impressive trick of getting states to include their product as part of school evaluation formulas. This is tantamount to getting the government to require cars to have a Ford nameplate in order to pass inspection.
the continued defection of top schools has drawn blood, and the growth
of the opt-out movement has armed the peasants with even more spears.
More and more people are coming to see the SAT and ACT for what they are—products
for sale. Much of the SAT and ACT customer base is people who pay for
the product because, well, you know, you have to, right? There's no
But with every passing defection it becomes clear
there is a choice. There's a choice for students, and there's most
especially a choice for colleges and universities. The SAT is not a
necessary rite of passage. It's just another six-pack of snake oil, an
expensive con that's long on drawbacks and short on benefits. The SAT
and ACT may still rule the majority of college domains for now, but it
is increasingly clear that the emperor is both fully mortal and mostly
Originally published at View from the Cheap Seats