Back in the 1400s when I was in high school and had a great deal more hair, I took the ACT, which was the standard in my South Dakota town. But later, as a high school teacher, I taught kids how to pass the SAT. That teaching consisted of very specific tactics, not any increase in ability or knowledge. Kids taking my class increased their SAT score from 100 to 300 points. They were not more capable or smarter, but they were much better prepared to take a single, very specific test.
The ostensible point of both tests has always been portrayed as an infalliile means for colleges to assess the preparedness of potential students for the rigors of genuine college-level study, a prediction of their likelihood for success, success meaning: graduation.
But times change. The Obama years solidified a trend begun before Barack Obama’s ascension: everybody can and should go to college. To facilitate that fantasy, Mr. Obama nationalized the student loan industry. The result, in only about a decade, has been nearly two trillion in student loan debt. Many of those holding that debt never graduated from college and have little or no hope of paying back their loans, which commonly exceed the cost of a single family home.
The current several dozen 2020 Democrat presidential candidates are falling over each other preaching the abolishment of all student loan debt, and the current Democrat “It” guy, Pete Buttegeig and his “husband” are some $130,000 dollars in student loan debt.
Because colleges have been willing to admit anyone with a pulse and solvent bank account–a pulse might be optional at some colleges; a functioning brain and/or conscience certainly is–enrollment has increased, and tuition has skyrocketed. Most of this money has gone to increasing college bureaucracies, particularly diversity and inclusion bureaucracies, which has led to admitting even more fundamentally unprepared people in the name of race, gender, etc.
Because colleges have been admitting people manifestly unqualified for real college level work, many have stopped requiring the SAT, such scores, to whatever degree they are accurate, tending to be inconvenient in that they reveal just how racist college admissions have become. Ask Harvard about that one. The degree to which American universities have been relying on the SAT, is revealing not of academic concerns, but social justice virtue signaling.
This has caused a crisis for the College Board, the company that produces the SAT. Thankfully, the company has come up with an idea that will not only increase revenues, but make colleges very happy, as Fox News reports:
The College Board, which oversees the SAT exam used by most U.S. colleges during the admissions process, plans to introduce an ‘adversity score’ which takes into consideration the social and economic background of every student.
The move is likely to reignite the debate over race and class in college admissions.
The new adversity score is being calculated using 15 factors, including the crime rate and poverty level from the student’s high school and neighborhood, The Wall Street Journal first reported.
Students won’t be privy to their scores but colleges and universities will see them when reviewing applications.
“Adversity Score?” What does that mean. Simple. It’s illegal to use race to determine who gets into college–Harvard is finding that out–so colleges are using the SAT as a means of doing it anyway.
So far, 50 colleges have used it in making a decision about a prospective student’s chances. The College Board plans to expand that to 150 higher learning institutions in the fall. The goal is to use it broadly by 2021.
‘There are a number of amazing students who may have scored less (on the SAT) but have accomplished more,’ David Coleman, chief executive of the College Board, said. ‘We can’t sit on our hands and ignore the disparities of wealth reflected in the SAT.
What this means in practice is a kid who gets up at 0400 every morning to do his farm chores, and who rushes home after school to help on the farm until 2100, then does homework until midnight and starts all over again, will get no adversity points, because he happens to be white. His family isn’t wealthy at all, but he’s white, so too bad. No adversity, just not diverse enough, white boy.
Many universities like Harvard say a diverse student body is part of the college experience and should be the educational mission of a school. However, there have been several lawsuits filed in recent years that accuse universities of unfair admission practices.
In October, Harvard University’s dean of admissions testified the Ivy League school applies different SAT score standards to prospective students based on factors such as race, but insisted the practice is not discriminatory.
Students for Fair Admissions, a group headed by legal strategist Edward Blum, sued the Cambridge, Mass., school in 2014 claiming Asian-Americans, who have the highest academic records, unfairly receive the lowest admission rate at the elite university.
Similar lawsuits have also been filed against the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hilland the University of California system.
So is this sort of thing popular with Americans?
According to a February Pew Research Center survey, 73% of Americans say colleges should not consider race or ethnicity when making admission decisions. Only 7% said race should be a major factor.
Didn’t think so. Who is this David Coleman, anyway? Fox News Reports:
The College Board president behind the recent decision to assign applicants an ‘adversity score’ is the same man who courted controversy pushing Common Core, the national K-12 curriculum standards project that several states adopted, then dropped under pressure from education activists.
David Coleman, the architect of Common Core and current president and chief executive of the College Board, has a controversial history with standardized tests and higher learning. Critics claim Common Core, which was designed to establish baseline K-12 curriculum standards but was derided as a power grab from local school boards, should be seen as a cautionary tale. They also suspect Coleman’s latest effort, in his current job heading the company behind the SAT test, is an effort to stay relevant amid questions about the fairness of standardized testing.
‘Promotion of adversity scores is the latest attempt by the College Board to defend the SAT against increasingly well-documented critiques of the negative consequences of relying on admissions test scores,’ Bob Schaeffer, the public education director at FairTest, the National Center for Fair and Open Testing, told US News & World Report.
When the Common Core blew up, Coleman moved on to cause damage in other ways:
As the drumbeat grew, Coleman jumped ship to become president and chief executive officer of the College Board, a company that administers the SAT exam taken by about two million students a year.
Coleman was accused of using his new high-paying gig– he earned a base salary of $550,000, with a total compensation of $750,000 in 2012 – to deal a devastating blow to his Common Core critics.
At Coleman’s direction, the SAT was revamped to align with the Common Core Standards Initiative, despite growing complaints and a steady stream of negative press.
Great guy, that Coleman. But a genuinely great woman, Heather MacDonald, provides additional information:
For decades, the College Board defended the SAT, which it writes and administers, against charges that the test gives an unfair advantage to middle-class white students. No longer. Under relentless pressure from the racial-preferences lobby, the Board has now caved to the anti-meritocratic ideology of ‘diversity.’ The Board will calculate for each SAT-taker an “adversity score” that purports to measure a student’s socioeconomic position, according to the Wall Street Journal. Colleges can use this adversity index to boost the admissions ranking of allegedly disadvantaged students who otherwise would score too poorly to be considered for admission.
Advocates of this change claim that it is not about race. That is a fiction. In fact, the SAT adversity score is simply the latest response on the part of mainstream institutions to the seeming intractability of the racial academic-achievement gap. If that gap did not exist, the entire discourse about ‘diversity’ would evaporate overnight. The average white score on the SAT (1,123 out of a possible 1,600) is 177 points higher than the average black score (946), approximately a standard deviation of difference. This gap has persisted for decades. It is not explained by socioeconomic disparities. The Journal of Blacks in Higher Educationreported in 1998 that white students from households with incomes of $10,000 or less score better on the SAT than black students from households with incomes of $80,000 to $100,000. In 2015, students with family incomes of $20,000 or less (a category that includes all racial groups) scored higher on average on the math SAT than the average math score of black students from all income levels. The University of California has calculated that race predicts SAT scores better than class.
OK, but what about white privilege, huh?
Those who rail against ‘white privilege’ as a determinant of academic achievement have a nagging problem: Asians. Asian students outscore white students on the SAT by 100 points; they outscore blacks by 277 points. It is not Asian families’ economic capital that vaults them to the top of the academic totem pole; it is their emphasis on scholarly effort and self-discipline. Every year in New York City, Asian elementary school students vastly outperform every other racial and ethnic group on the admissions test for the city’s competitive public high schools, even though a disproportionate number of them come from poor immigrant families. [skip]
The solution to the academic achievement gap lies in cultural change, not in yet another attack on a meritocratic standard. Black parents need to focus as relentlessly as Asian parents on their children’s school attendance and performance. They need to monitor homework completion and grades. Academic achievement must no longer be stigmatized as ‘acting white.’ And a far greater percentage of black children must be raised by both their mother and their father, to ensure the socialization that prevents classrooms from turning into scenes of chaos and violence.
At present, thanks to racial preferences, many black high school students know that they don’t need to put in as much scholarly effort as non-‘students of color’ to be admitted to highly competitive colleges. The adversity score will only reinforce that knowledge. That is not a reality conducive to life achievement. The only guaranteed beneficiaries of this new scheme are the campus diversity bureaucrats. They have been given another assurance of academically handicapped students who can be leveraged into grievance, more diversity sinecures, and lowered academic standards.
Culture mattering?! Impossible! Everything is about race and diversity. Just ask campus diversity bureaucrats. Ultimately, intelligence, dedication, responsibility and academic ability have to matter, or college degrees will become even more meaningless than they are now, as I noted back in 2017:
What?! Some people aren’t as smart as others?! Progressive heads are exploding everywhere! Yes, and if you haven’t learned this fundamental lesson about human nature, I fear for your continuing existence. We do not, for a moment, doubt that not everyone is capable of playing on the varsity football or basketball team, yet we hold the odd conceit that resists recognizing intellectual differences despite the fact that we have to do it every day merely to survive.
Charles Murray, the W.H. Brady Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute is a prolific writer on education issues. One of his most interesting works (PDF available here), written in 2009, is entitled Intelligence and Education. Murray referred, for example, to a survey that found 90% of high school students were encouraged to attend college by their counselors. It is not surprising, therefore, to discover:
‘For 40 years, American leaders have been unwilling to discuss the underlying differences in academic ability that children bring to the classroom. Over the same period, federal policy, backed by billions of taxpayer dollars in loans and grants, has aggressively encouraged more and more students to try to obtain a college education. As a result, about half of all high-school graduates now enroll in four-year colleges, despite the ample evidence that just a small minority of American students — about 10-15% — have the academic ability to do well in college.’
Using his own research and that of others, Murray came to an interesting conclusion about what is necessary for genuine success in college: an IQ of at least 115:
‘There is no inconsistency between Kobrin’s results and a 115 mean IQ among white college graduates. The students who make salient points in classroom discussions, who write well-researched term papers, and whose final exams demonstrate that they understood the material are
usually well into the upper half of the distribution of academic ability among those who go to college. In other words, they are somewhere in the top 15% of the population — and usually in the top 10%.’
The SAT, adversity scores, all a scam to promote and ensure racial discrimination in college admissions, and to ensure college administrators never lose their cushy positions. There’s the real racism in higher education.