Tuesday, March 11, 2014

SAT test preparation books sit on a shelf at a Barnes and Noble store June 27, 2002 in New York City. (Mario Tama/Getty)

Some critics of the SAT argue that GPA is a better predictor of a student's success in college than a standardized test. After last week's news about changes to the SAT (and as families get their high school acceptance notices this week), Eric Hoover, senior writer for the Chronicle of Higher Education, explains how students from different high schools are evaluated, and how much the SAT really matters anyway.


Eric Hoover

Comments [9]

Mr. Bad from NYC

@ Alan from Manhattan

Your comment gets right to the heart of the matter and explains far more clearly then the guest did why many feel the SAT needs to be dumbed down. Unfortunately education cannot (and this is the fundamental flaw in the reasoning) by itself resolve social inequality. The debate seems to revolve constantly around the idea of fairness as if it is "unfair" that a test which is given in English should disadvantage ESL students or the part of the test which measures mathematical ability should be "unfair" to those whose family background makes difficult the study of math for some unknown (to me) reason.

Nobody is saying the SAT measures human worth. Low SAT scores have never kept anyone out of college, unfortunately. Community colleges will accept anyone and there are plenty of decent private and public schools that will literally take anyone with a GED and a pul$e, which is incidentally the criteria for borrowing thousands upon thousands of dollars in undischargable debt but I digress.

The SAT should be available for those students who whether disadvantaged or not are very intelligent and would have few other ways to stand out from the mass of other applicants to the best schools where the quality difference in instruction will actually make a difference in their personal outcome. A lot of intelligent people aren't well rounded individuals with lots of extracurricular activities to boast about in a college app. A lot of them are weird, antisocial, etc. Does that mean they don't belong in college of all places? Has it really gotten to the point where highly intelligent people are turned away from HIGHER EDUCATION because they aren't average enough? Higher Education should stay Higher education and leave the social engineering to the technocrats and politicians.

Mar. 11 2014 03:14 PM
metd from bklyn

I'm very happy to hear about the collaboration between the College Board and the Khan Academy. It has potential to even things out for all those families who don't have the means to hire "an independent college admissions counselor" or buy time with a SAT prep coach to game the system. GPAs can be inflated, at least SAT scores can be a somewhat objective.

Mar. 11 2014 02:27 PM
Alan from Manhattan

I was disappointed not to be able to comment on the SAT on your program. I was the College Advisor at a New York public high school (Norman Thomas) for many years, We had no entrance exam, and most of my students were children of immigrants, whose language at home was not English. The stories of their llives were often agonizing—I am sure I could never have endured what they lived daily; They consistently scored lower on the SAT than their more privileged college applicants, which presented a problem to me and, to their credit, to the admissions officers of our colleges, private, state, and city. I cultivated relationships with those officers, and close relationships with my students. I was able to provide the colleges with evidence of the students’ merits, and was extremely successful in getting them accepted, despite their lower scores on the SAT. These students have gone on to be wildly successful during and after college (I am still in touch with scores of them). The SAT can only be considered an indicator of future success if it is within a sensible context. The biggest problem with it of this sort was with CUNY schools that are constrained, due to numbers, understaffing, and rigidity, to rely only on numbers. Even there, when I could appeal to the admissions officers directly, some rejections were reversed,

Mar. 11 2014 12:19 PM
Steve from Brooklyn

I think this discussion ignores the toll the SAT/ACT takes on students who warp their educations by spending ridiculous amounts studying for them instead of their educations.

Mar. 11 2014 11:58 AM
Parisa from Brooklyn

with the changes occurring with colleges and SAT scores, do you foresee grad schools moving away from the importance of GMAT or GRE scores?

Mar. 11 2014 11:57 AM
janny1006 from jersey city

We had 2 schools tell us they look at SAT scores but the 4 year trajectory of HS is more important: good grades, steady improvement, challenging courses, etc. FYI, my daughter (a senior, who has taken it 3 times so as to superscore) is not happy with the proposed changes, especially eliminating the essay. She thinks it's being dumbed down, and "there is no better way to see if a kid can put thoughts and sentences together than seeing an essay they've written"

Mar. 11 2014 11:54 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

"Success" comes to those with great talent, large ambition, and fabulous luck. Everyone else is a hack.

Mar. 11 2014 11:52 AM

How well you know yourself and how well you know what you'd like to do with a degree is a better predictor of success AFTER college than either SAT scores or GPA. Do you have the passion and the discipline to see the job through? I didn't the first time I was enrolled but when I went back a mere two years later, I was a tiger.

Unfortunately, tuitions have grown at the rate of GDP, *not* average incomes. Thus, college education is more dear/less affordable that it should be. We ought to be able to make some mistakes while we are young rather than borrowing enough to pay for it that we then need to put off other life decisions. 'Nearly as effective' but vastly cheaper Internet colleges cannot be far off.

Mar. 11 2014 11:50 AM
Mr. Bad from NYC

Define "success" in college. To the Higher Ed establishment "success" means getting a kid with marginal intelligence to spend 4+ years of their life getting into a deep well of debt that it will take a lifetime or more to repay in order to achieve a worthless degree signifying little more than "good citizenship" in most cases.

How about defining "success" in life and the role college SHOULD play in achieving that? Bill Gates, Zuckerberg, Jobs all dropped out of college though it obviously played a role in their success while an army of "successful" college graduates pile their resumes 16 hands high on the desks of our cities Starbuck's managers.

But I will concede that a GPA is a better indicator of the Higher Ed version of "success" and more likely to perpetuate the Higher Ed bubble.

Mar. 11 2014 11:28 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.