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Standardized Tests: Still Worth It

Standardized Tests: Still Worth It

Standardized Tests: Still Worth It


Contributing Writer

March 2, 2023

Jeffrey Lin '25

On February 17, Anthony Jack spoke at an all-school meeting about his book, The Privileged Poor. Among other points, he argued that standardized testing ought to be eliminated as part of the college admissions process. Similar claims have provoked contention in high schools around the country, especially at prep schools like our own. However, the exclusion of standardized testing from the college application could be detrimental to the American educational landscape and to the pursuit of equity in the college process.

Standardized testing in the United States originated because colleges and universities needed an objective way to evaluate the academic proficiency of students from very different high schools across the country. This objective was met by the SAT and ACT, which, for the past two decades, have helped making the college-admission process fairer for all students.

The subject-specific Advanced Placement (AP) exams were introduced in the 1950s by the College Board. They have influenced many schools’ curricula since that time, assisting in the standardization of class content and course rigor throughout the nation. Thanks to the AP curriculum, the quality of public high school education has substantially increased.

It’s not a perfect system, of course. Standardized tests have posed barriers to disadvantaged students, who do not have access to test preparation resources. It is also true, however, that resources for preparing for standardized testing are now widely available online. The College Board, the administrators of the standardized exams, as well as other free institutions such as Khan Academy, offer more comprehensive test preparation materials that are free and easy to use.

Stepping away from these tests will actually negatively affect equality in the college application process. Standardized testing is one of the only objective components of the college application system – grades and GPA fluctuate with schools, levels of courses, and teacher expectations; certain essays appeal to some readers but not others; teacher recommendations depend on the standards and abilities of teachers.

There are likely ways that standardized tests can be modified to both improve their ability to support equity in the college-admissions process. Digital adaptive testing, which the SAT already will introduce after the next application cycle, will make testing significantly more accessible. If more changes can be made to make the tests more equitable, then it is a win-win situation — a return to standardized student comparisons for college admissions office, and for students,

Jeffrey Lin is a contributing writer for The Record.

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Editor's Note: This article was recovered from The Record's online archive. There may be stylistic and visual errors that interrupt the reading experience, as well as missing photos. To read this article as it appeared in print, view our print archives.

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Editorials are written by members of The Record's Executive Board. They typically center on issues related to the school or student life on campus.

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