The End of the SAT

Educators have long known that what SAT scores most reliably tell us is the family income of the testtakers and that every hour spent on test prep for the SAT is an hour away from helping students to grow as learners and thinkers. So we celebrate the precipitous decline of the SAT.

In the late 1980’s, fewer than three dozen colleges and universities did not require SAT or ACT scores from their applicants. Today, 1700 colleges and universities are not requiring SAT or ACT scores from applicants. Alleluia!

Below is a press release from FAIR TEST, the National Center for Fair and Open Testing:


For immediate release Thursday, September 9, 2021

1,700+ BACHELOR-DEGREE-GRANTING  COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES DO NOT REQUIRE ACT/SAT SCORES FROM FALL 2022 APPLICANTS

An updated list of ACT/SAT-optional and test-blind schools released today by the National Center for Fair & Open Testing (FairTest) shows that more than 1,700 colleges and universities will not require admissions exam scores from applicants seeking to enroll in fall 2022 applicants. That is more than 73% of all U.S. bachelor-degree granting institutions.

“Test-optional and test-blind policies are the new normal in higher education admissions,” FairTest Executive Director Bob Schaeffer explained. “The vast majority of four-year institutions, including nearly all of the nation’s most-selective schools, no longer rely on ACT/SAT scores to evaluate applicants.”

“A big question is whether the 2022 U.S. News “Best Colleges” guide will reflect this new reality,” Schaeffer continued. That publication will be released on Monday, September 13. Last year’s U.S. News guide was the first to include institutions with test-blind or score-free admissions policies. According to FairTest’s new tally, 84 schools are now in that category

In recent years, U.S. News has punished ACT/SAT-optional schools by reducing the scores used to calculate rankings. “Because of arbitrary policies like this, FairTest was an initial signer of a petition calling on U.S. News to eliminate any use of test scores in its rankings,” Schaeffer added.  “We are watching closely to see whether this upcoming U.S. News guide continues this unjustified, punitive policy.” The Fiske Guide to Colleges, the best-selling admissions handbook, recently announced that it will no longer include test scores in its annual school profiles.

FairTest has been the leader of the U.S. test-optional admissions movement since the late 1980s when the non-profit organization published a report titled “Beyond Standardized Tests: Admissions Alternatives that Work.”  At that time, fewer than three dozen colleges and universities did not mandate ACT or SAT score submission from applicants.

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–  FairTest’s frequently updated directory of test-optional, 4-year schools is available free online at https://www.fairtest.org/university/optional — sort geographically by clicking on “State”.

–   A chronology of schools dropping ACT/SAT requirements with details about the duration of those policies is at:http://www.fairtest.org/sites/default/files/Optional-Growth-Chronology.pdf

–  A sub-list of 84 campuses with test-blind, score-free or test-free policies (ACT/SAT results not considered if submitted):  http://www.fairtest.org/sites/default/files/Test-Blind-Admissions-List.pdf

Time To End Our National Obsession With Test Scores

By Diane Ravitch

Nancy Flanagan is a retired teacher with decades of experience. In this post, she remembers when she used to take standardized test scores seriously. Then she went to a state board meeting in Michigan, where the topic of discussion was setting cut scores. Cut scores are the lines that determine whether students scored “advanced,” “proficient,” “basic,” or “below basic.” 

What she learned was that the cut scores are arbitrary. There is no science involved in setting the cut scores. It’s guesswork. The cut scores can be moved up or down to produce good news or bad news. 

She writes: 

Here’s the (incendiary) headline: Test Scores Show Dramatic Declines!

Here’s the truth: this set of test scores tells us nothing for certain. The data are apples-to-oranges-to bowling balls muddled. If anything, if you still believe test scores give us valuable information, the data might be mildly encouraging, considering what students have encountered over the past 18 months…

The problem is this: You can’t talk about good schools or good teachers or even “lost learning”any more, without a mountain of numbers. Which can be inscrutable to nearly everyone, including those making policies impacting millions of children. When it comes to standardized test score analysis, we are collectively illiterate. And this year’s data? It’s meaningless.

Bridge Magazine (headline: Test Scores Slump) provides up/down testing data for every school district in Michigan. The accompanying article includes plenty of expert opinion on how suspect and incomplete the numbers are, but starts out with sky-is-falling paragraphs: In English, the share of third-graders considered “proficient” or higher dropped from 45.1 percent to 42.8 percent; in sixth-grade math, from 35.1 percent to 28.6 percent; in eighth-grade social studies, from 28 percent to 25.9 percent.

These are, of course, aggregated statewide numbers. Down a few percent, pretty much across the board. Unsurprising, given the conditions under which most elementary and middle school students were learning. Down the most for students of color and those in poverty—again, unsurprising. Still, there’s also immense score variance, school to school, even grade to grade. The aggregate numbers don’t tell the whole story–or even the right story.

The media seemed to prefer a bad-news advertising campaign for the alarming idea that our kids are falling further behind. Behind whom, is what I want to know? Aren’t we all in this together? Is a two-point-something score drop while a virus rages reason to clutch your academic pearls?

It’s time to end our national love affair with testing, to make all Americans understand that educational testing is a sham that’s harmed many children. Testing hasn’t ever worked to improve public education outcomes, and it’s especially wasteful and subject to misinterpretation right now

CNN: What the data reveals about children and Covid-19 in the US

By Daniel Wolfe and Priya Krishnakumar, CNN

Updated 10:57 AM ET, Wed September 1, 2021

(CNN)As students and staff return to school, the highly transmissible Delta variant of Covid-19 has caused cases, hospitalizations and death rates to soar across the country.

Children under 12 are particularly vulnerable to infection as they are not yet eligible for vaccination, including the FDA-approved Pfizer vaccine.Contrary to research early in the pandemic, children are just as likely to become infected as adults. According to the CDC, Covid-19 infection rates for adolescents aged 5 to 17 were as high as in adults 18 to 49, and higher than rates in adults over 50.

There have been 4.8 million cases of Covid-19 in children since April 2020, according to the American Association of Pediatrics, making up about 15% of all documented cases in the United States. In the last month, the number of new weekly cases has surged to near-peak levels.

Areas across the country with lower than average vaccination rates are experiencing higher increases in Covid-19 cases among children. In Mississippi, where only 37.7% of residents are fully vaccinated, there has been a 29% increase in cumulative Covid-19 cases in children over the past two weeks

lTotal hospitalizations are also climbing to rates not seen since before vaccines were readily available. Average hospitalizations for children with Covid jumped in early 2021 and have remained high. This is to be expected, said Dr. Sean O’Leary, vice chair of the American Association of Pediatrics Committee on Infectious Diseases. “This is a reflection of both the infectiousness of the Delta variants and what happens to unvaccinated populations as infections continue,” he told CNN.As the pandemic continues, and vaccine eligibility remains on hold, children are increasingly experiencing the ramifications. Available data shows that child hospitalizations as a share of all hospitalizations are on the rise.

This can be attributed in part to vaccine availability in people 12 and older, but in cities like San Francisco, where vaccination rates are 19.6% points higher than the national average of 52.4%, children admitted to hospitals fit a consistent profile.”We are finding that our older pediatric patients have not been vaccinated. In the case of younger pediatric patients, their parents have not been vaccinated,” said Suzanne Leigh, a representative at UCSF Benioff’s Children Hospital.As total hospitalizations have surged across the country, health care facilities are overburdened and facing familiar shortages.

lMany pediatric units are at capacity as they see an influx of child Covid patients on top of an unseasonable epidemic of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).Hospitals often plan for extra staffing during the winter flu season, but a late-summer onslaught of Covid-19 cases has caused unexpected health care staff shortages in many areas of the country. “[Hospitals] have all kinds of plans to make sure they’re properly staffed. And so when there’s a curveball, like an RSV season in the summer, that by itself creates a problem,” said Dr. O’Leary.

Dr. Sarah Combs, an emergency physician at Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C., is optimistic about the effectiveness of safety measures: “I think it’s understandable that there’s anxiety, but in some respects I think we should embrace the anxiety,” she said. “It’s very easy to get fatigued and get sick and tired of doing the same old, same old [precautions], but that’s when we let our guard down… We are going back to school with eyes wide open.”

As students return to school, proven mitigation measures are needed to protect children who remain vulnerable to the pandemic and are shouldering the impact of decisions out of their control.