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National Counseling Association Considers Value of SAT & ACT

The National Association for College Admissions Counseling is releasing a report this week to coincide with its national convention that questions the importance of standardized testing in the college admissions process.


For the first time, NACAC takes the stance that standardized testing may not, actually, be essential in evaluating candidates for admission, and encourages colleges and universities to more carefully consider how standardized testing is used.


One of my personal pet peeves is the fact that these tests may serve to keep quality minority students from applying to college–and may prevent them from entering more selective ones.  White and Asians score higher, generally, than Blacks and Latinos.


The College Board and ACT insist that any discrepancies in scores among these groups is due to differnences in the quality of education that these different groups receive.  This is the “achievement gap” that we continue to hear so much about in relation to No Child Left Behind.  The College Board and ACT seem to say say that the “achievement gap” is not their problem, and that the tests are still relevant.


Whether or not you buy their argument, the NACAC report calls on colleges and universities to control the conversation more, and not to let it be dominated by the organizations that administer (and profit from) the tests.  Colleges may, for example, desire to enroll more Black and Latino students.  But how will selective colleges do this–especially when using race as an admissions criterion is frowned upon?


I’m happy to hear that colleges are starting to take this issue more seriously.  Clearly the fact that over 700 colleges are now test optional, plus the fact that even some selective schools no longer require the tests (e.g., WPI, Wake Forest) is a sign that perhaps there are other ways to glean enough information about the quality of an applicant–from high school grades, teacher recommendations, essays, graded work, and whatnot) that are at least as good and perhaps more wholistic than the use of standardized tests.


What do you think?


Mark Montgomery
College Counseling





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