The big show at last week’s conference of the National Association for College Admissions Counseling was a report by NACAC examining the role of SAT and ACT tests in the college admissions process. Essentially, the report called upon colleges to look more carefully at the role of these tests, and called into question their true importance in predicting college success.
The New York Times today carries an excellent analysis of the report in an article titled, “Study of Standardized Admissions Tests is Big Draw at College Conference.”
Colleges and universities know that there is not a lot of convincing research-based evidence that SAT or ACT tests measure academic aptitude or act as good predictors of a student’s success during the first year of college.
However, many of the same colleges that question the tests’ true value will continue to use them because they are useful short cuts to comparing one student against the next.
I wrote a while back about a point raised by Dartmouth’s retiring dean of admission: while the number of applications had skyrocketed in the past decade, his admissions staff had not grown. Of course, computers have simplified much of what admissions offices used to do by hand. But my sense it that many college still rely on the SAT and ACT to make it simpler to reject those whose scores are on the lower end of the scale. And given the conclusion in the Times article, it seems that most of our most selective colleges and universities will continue to use the tests–flawed though they may be.