Unfair SATs

Friday, August 06, 2010

Jay Mathews, who writes the Class Struggle blog for the Washington Post, discusses recent findings suggesting that the SAT may be racially biased and how fewer universities are using the test to determine qualification.


Jay Mathews

Comments [16]

MJ from Upper East Side

I could not bear to listen to Jay's politically correct whining for the entire show. The caller pointing out about the performance of recent Asian immigrant students growing up in inner cities hit it on the head. In many of these households, the parents can barely speak English and yet their kids perform well. It is because while they are poor economically, they are rich in culture and values while inner city urban culture produces children who can not compete. So change the culture and not the test. It is irrational to bring standards down because some people can not meet them, we should help and demand those who do not, to meet them. We all grow up in different ethnic households that express topics in our own way but there is a standard English that is spoken in the professional and academic setting. The SAT reflects this and it would be ridiculous for it to try to accommodate every ethnic group in this country.

Aug. 13 2010 01:46 PM
john from office.

I am so sorry I missed this show, to make my usual un pc comments If you have a child, read to that child and speak to him or her in standard American english. He will learn to read and speak well and will score well on test.

If your too busy on the corner, hanging out, drinking malt drinks, don't have kids. It is an insult to change the world for the lesser abled.

Aug. 06 2010 11:36 AM
Olivia Koppell from New York City

The real assesment of these tests should be how well they predict success in college (and throughout life). I suspect they don't do that very well - and that is why colleges are starting to drop them as the best measure of students' future performance. So many factors, many emotional, contribute to how kids negotiate their college years. Let's not forget, the SATs and the like are big business - and that is their bias!

Aug. 06 2010 10:58 AM

It starts with PARENTS, who made the decision to bring a life into the world and it's THEIR responsibility to ensure their child(ren) are properly prepared before they set foot in a classroom with a foundation and attitude geared toward learning which begins in the home. Teachers come into play as a supplement to what should be taking place in the home. However, the elephant in the room: a lot of people, regardless of economic status, are not suitable for parenthood and the products of their decisions are draining on society.

Aug. 06 2010 10:49 AM
Karol from Manhattan

I'm curious to know, what were the questions that the students did well on? Math? Science?

Everyone should speak standard English. Being told "you speak so well" as if that is some major accomplishment, is really an indication that somehow, being an African American, you have surprised your listener with your diction and enunciation of the "Queen's" language.

When popular culture, geared towards young African American children, uses slang, dialect, and other non-standard forms of English, even parents have a difficult time countering that overwhelming influence.

I think there should be a move towards speaking standard English and an unyielding drive for the proper teaching of the language in schools. This, along with writing skills and critical thinking, may help to raise the test scores.

But test scores alone will not predict the success of a student in college or in life. It this were the case, most college professors (presumably high SAT/GRE/LSAT etc. scorers) would be millionaires as well.

Aug. 06 2010 10:41 AM
The Truth from Becky

The responsibility lies 1st on the Teachers, 2nd on the Parents and 3rd on the students to prep for these tests!! Get away from the excuses, slang is just the latest excuse for teachers not performing well.

Teachers need to teach and stop trying to be pals with the kids, parents need to parent and stop "facebooking" and "twittering" with their kids.

Aug. 06 2010 10:37 AM
Jihobbyist from United States of New York City

Another typical Brian Lehrer bs show. This pc nonsense is primarily a product of White stereotypes of black people, and everything to them is racial.

Black people are not on the street demanding change to the Oxford dictionary to include slangs.

White people, please stop speaking for black people, your obsession with Race makes you a Racist.

Aug. 06 2010 10:37 AM
Jackson from Brooklyn

As a black educator in an inner city school, I affirm this study as a GREAT and legitimate proposition. So much of what was referred to during the show as "Street Talk" makes it way into American popular lexicon (white speech). This is a breakthrough study that the SAT team needs to consider. The SAT needs major restructuring to be the democratic assessment exam it claims to be.

Aug. 06 2010 10:33 AM
The Truth from Becky

FYI Jay..slick means slick and bad means bad by the dictionary definition in the "Urban" community as well.

What was the language used by the kids in West Side Story labeled?

What "speak" was Fonzi from Happy Days using?

Beverly Hillbilies, Leave it to beaver etc....just what the heck is the dialect in Bensonhurst, Bay Ridge and Canarsie? get my drift?

Aug. 06 2010 10:26 AM
M from Brooklyn, NY

Immigrants do well because they have the drive. Poor American kids - especially blacks - who don't have people around them that enforce the speaking of standard english will always fall short unless they have parents that are driven to force them to succeed.

Let's not blame the test when it has been clearly demonstrated time and again that immigrants can ace the test.

Aug. 06 2010 10:20 AM
The Truth from Becky

This topic was a degrading, demeaning, stereotypical and ignorant depiction of the Black community when it was first aired a couple of weeks ago and it is still degrading, demeaning, stereotypical and ignorant today as well.

Aug. 06 2010 10:19 AM
Brian from Hoboken

So are we going to start changing the oxford
dictionary because some idiots use slang? Since when is the proper use of language malleable? Proper grammar is proper grammar. Learn to speak correctly or find yourself working at mcdonalds for life. When you go to interview for a job and you tell the professional in front of you that he is "bad", good luck. This is PC garbage.

Aug. 06 2010 10:19 AM
Sebs from Long Island

(Full disclosure: my verbal SAT was 800)

While words like "tight" and "bad" very well may have different meanings depending on your neighbourhood, isn't it true that to be successful in university, especially in arts programs, you would have to be familiar with the typical usage? You're not going to succeed in a university level English program if the only use of the word "bad" you know is where it means good.

Aug. 06 2010 10:17 AM
ceolaf from NYC

Let's be clear and accurate here: This is about cultural bias and NOT about racial bias.

Unfortunately, race and culture are so aligned in this country that it becomes easy to make this mistake. But let's be careful about properly attributing the differences.

Aug. 06 2010 10:16 AM
Serena from UWS

If you don't know the difference between the street slang and the actual definition of "bad" please don't become a fireperson.

Aug. 06 2010 10:12 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

More politically correct department exams, police captain exams, SATS, state bar exams......we are morphing from a society of equal opportunity into one of enforced equal outcomes. College admissions is a zero sum game. If you artificially advantage a chronically underperforming (but sacrosanct) group, you must, by necessity, limit slots for highly achieving Asians, Russian immigrants and hard working white students. This is usually cloaked in the benign language of a "level playing field" or a "leg up". This is the road to mediocrity.

Aug. 06 2010 10:07 AM

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