SAT, ACT validity questioned amidst admissions scandals

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Operation Varsity Blues, an investigation into falsified test scores, has brought to light ongoing questions concerning the equity and security of the SAT and ACT. As a result, prominent universities such as the University of Chicago and many institutions on the East Coast have become test-optional in order to receive a greater diversity of applicants.

College adviser Janae López said that Operation Varsity Blues has made people question the security and fairness of the tests.

“Even without the admissions scandal, requiring standardized tests is still an equity issue because not everyone has the resources to do really well on these tests,” López said.

On the other hand, junior Michael Wong said that the standardized tests should be kept because they are objective and display academic capability.

“Standardized testing evens out the playing field [and] it’s another display of your academic preparedness for college,” Wong said, “and removing that is going to hinder [that] display of preparedness.”

One of the alternatives to the SAT and ACT is the use of the state-paid Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) as the new standardized test for college admissions.

“If they substituted [the SBAC for] the SAT and ACT it would be more convenient and affordable for everybody,” School Counselor Devin Vergo said. “My worry with the SBAC is how that [is] going to impact what [teachers] need to teach because the focus is really on the test content.”

Another option is the complete removal of standardized testing in favor of an admissions system that selects students based on their high school GPA and extracurricular activities. Principal Debbie Stone said that this alternative, if implemented, would not be as objective as a standardized test.

“Students in one area may not have as many resources and would not be able to have certain clubs, like an Academic Decathlon team,” Stone said, “compared to a school with a demographic that could pour more money in.”

These questions and changes have prompted the UC schools to form a task force to evaluate these tests. It is expected to report its recommendations on changing admission testing policies for the SAT and ACT early next year.

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