As part of the college application scandal, today’s Wall Street Journal reports that more students use SAT accommodations. I’m quoted in that article.
Yet, the key reality I focus on is not about students or parents–it’s about these huge and wealthy testing companies, the College Board (which administers the SAT) and the ACT. Sixteen years ago, they created the totally predictable pickle we’re now. At that time, they initiated nonstandard so-called “standardized” tests–if you can believe that! They invalidated their very own product! And the public continues to pay for it dearly with actual dollars and much anxiety.
What happened 16 years ago? In 2003 these companies decided to stop notifying colleges and schools when a student took the test in a NONstandard way, as with extended time. Mind you, it is not illegal provide such notice (called “flagging.” ) Valid tests continue to do it–as they should. Check out my 2003 story about this, “Disabling the SAT.” A sorry tale indeed.
It was obvious then that this development would become a loophole. Here’s what I wrote at the time:
“The rates at which students receive testing accommodations also vary dramatically by zip code, with well-to-do, empowered parents being able to pressure the system into giving their children extra support. ….
The (College) Board’s decision to end flagging is likely to exacerbate these problems. Now that there is no consequence for taking the SAT with extra time, so-called diagnosis shopping will undoubtedly become even more common among the well heeled, who can afford the privcate psychologists and the pricey lawyers….”
Now this freebie loophole has blown up.
Let’s not blame parents. Let’s not blame students. Let’s finally be honest and blame the companies for no longer providing tests that are standardized.
I’ve written many times about the options these companies have–these include bringing back the flags, ending timing for anyone (thereby creating a different test–let’s be honest about this), creating a new test, no longer having these tests, etc., etc. The public also has options which it has already exercised, as more colleges make these no-longer-standardized tests “optional.”
Let’s see what the College Board and the ACT finally do about the mess they created. I trust and hope they will do the right thing and make standardized tests –standardized– again.