Thursday, July 10, 2008

SAT Spin

A recent study shows that the revamped SAT isn't any better at predicting college success than the old test was. The College Board began to revise the test in 2002, adding a writing section and taking away the analogies portion, when the University of California recommended that the school use a more curriculum- based approach to testing, saying that the SAT favored students from middle to high income families. (Think of the money lost if students applying to University of California schools weren't required to take the SAT!) The new test format was released three years ago. 
“The changes made to the SAT did not substantially change how predictive the test is of first-year college performance,” the studies said.

College Board officials presented their findings as “important and positive” confirmation of the test’s success.
Huh? Sounds similar to Bush's spin on the Reading First results.
“The new SAT was supposed to be significantly better and fairer than the old one, but it is neither,” said Robert Schaeffer, the public education director at FairTest, a group that is critical of much standardized testing. “It underpredicts college success for females and those whose best language is not English, and over all, it does not predict college success as well as high school grades, so why do we need the SAT, old or new?”

“Given the data released today, what was the point of all the hoopla about the SAT’s revisions beyond preserving their California market?” Mr. Schaeffer said. “This is all spin. It’s been a marketing operation from the get-go.”
Why do we need the SAT???

Book to Read: Eugenics and Education in America by Ann Winfeild

Bill Ayers has an interesting post about Ann Winfeild's Eugenics and Education in America: Institutionalized Racism and the Implications of History, Ideology, and Memory (Complicated Conversation: a Book Series of Curriculum Studies).


Ayers' review:
Written out of the official story as quackery and the handiwork of a few nut-cases, Winfield demonstrates beyond doubt that eugenics was not only respectable, mainstream science but also that its major tenets were well-springs in the formation of American public schools with echoes in the every day practices of today. Formed in the crucible of white supremacy and rigid hierarchies of human value, American schools have never adequately faced that living heritage.

We no longer talk of “miscegenation” or “imbeciles,” of course, and we are likely to look upon forced sterilization and race-based marriage laws as archaic. But Winfield undermines any sense of smug superiority we might grant ourselves by drawing a direct line from those repulsive labels and practices to our own obsessions with “standards” and “accountability,” test scores and grades. White supremacy surely changes its spots but it remains durable and dominant.