The College Board is changing the Scholastic Aptitude Test or SAT for the second time in ten years. The test is used to test scholastic aptitude and is used by colleges to rank students in the admission process. Some years ago, I read that the SAT was developed to level the field in such rankings and not allow socioeconomic status to overly influence admissions counselors. Now It is said that the modern SAT is “nothing more than a test of socioeconomic status.” We’re back to where we started! That students in certain socioeconomic groups who are the children of people who are smart and work hard also are also smart and work hard are just the sort of people who would score well on the SAT. To the progressive mind, this is all unbearable. The solution is to make the test easier so that the scores skew higher. To do this, the test will no longer require an essay, and will not require knowledge of “difficult, lesser-used vocabulary words.” How about that!! I thought the size and range of vocabulary was an indication of verbal skill, one of the two areas rated by the test. So no perspicacity, or jejune on this new test and we no longer need to proceed with “alacrity, celerity, promptitude and dispatch,” as H. Hall Katzenbach implored us to do in junior English.
Gone as well are advanced mathematical concepts. So, how do you test math aptitude without testing math achievement and understanding? Of course, as the test will include a lot of addition, the use of calculators may be restricted. That’s a good thing, but advanced mathematical concepts are where the wheat is separated from the chaff, but that’s the point. In the progressive mind separating the wheat from the chaff is not promoting social justice. It is that distinction and achievement in scholastic aptitude should not be the way students are admitted to college as adherence to diversity goals should control the process.
The major progressive problem with the current SAT is that Asian students scored at the top, whites somewhat lower, and blacks and Hispanics at the bottom. From my experience, no group works harder than Asian students and they deserve rewards, but that isn’t the progressive goal, diversity, so we need to even out the scores across all ethnic categories. (A student told me that he dropped a math course after the first class because he was the only non-Asian in the class. Another student who took the ACT test and told me he took it because “it was easier.”) The SAT has lost a lot of market to the ACT so making its test easier is also a response to business exigencies. Dollars do count.
The most disturbing aspect of this is that the College Board says it simply wants to test what students are actually learning in high school. So hard words are out and advanced math is not taught anymore. So much for Common Core, which is designed by the new head of the College Board. This is the dumbing down of a nation and that is very sad.