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For many years the SAT had been considered one of the most important tests that a student can take for the admission process. The SAT is thought to be one of the greatest measurements of academic success is high school and is considered one of the greatest predictors of academic success in college. In the recent years there have been people who have questioned the validity of the SAT, saying that it is an inaccurate measure of academic success and a poor predictor of academic success and does nothing except hinder the application and admission process for prospective students. The purpose of this paper is to present the two sides of the two sides of the argument (support of the test as an accurate measure and the support of the test as an inaccurate measure).
In a report written in 1992, Neil J. Jenkins writes that some colleges in Canada are no longer using the SAT as a predictor of success by post-secondary institutions, and are not really considered in the admissions process either.
The institutions in Canada feel that the test has many limitations, which among these are: the SAT, in an attempt to free up confounding variables, the test is modified not to accommodate people who can not speak English. Some of the other modifications that the SAT endures are that they have no accommodations for the visually impaired and students with mobility issues. The majority of the students both disabled and not, scored in the similar percentile in the mathematics section of the exam. It was the verbal section that had the majority of the deviations. The finding in this report was also substantiated by Randy Bennett, who also performed studies that concluded with the same findings (Jenkins 1992). Randy Bennett, when speaking about the non-traditional students (non-traditional students is defined by students who suffer from disabilities (both learning and physical, students who have physical disabilities include hearing impairments, visual impairments, and mobility impairments), may not be close to the age of traditional students, students who’s first language is not English.), says that:
“Vocabulary items re also reported to be difficult for these students…Learning disabled pupils are sad to have particular difficulty with antonyms and with the logical relationships required by verbal analogies.” (Bennett, quote is embedded in the Jenkins report so no year given, page is provided from the Bennett report, page 44)
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Other universities, as well, have been experimenting with the idea of eliminating the SAT I-Reasoning Test (both the verbal and mathematics sections) as a requirement for freshman admissions. The University of California conducted a five year study that experimented in the eliminations of the SAT as a requirement for freshman admissions. (Armstrong/Carty 2003)
In the course of the study it was discovered that the High School GPA (grade point average) was the single best predictor of the success of the students that attended the university for three of the years that the study was conducted. As for the other data that was collected it was determined that for the remaining two years that that the study was conducted, the SAT II became the more accurate predictor. So as you can see from the data that was collected in this experimentation the SAT I – reasoning test was not the single most accurate predictor of freshman success that year. (Armstrong/Carty 2003)
A report compiled by The National Center for Fair & Open Testing
In a study that was conducted by the National Center for Fair & Open Testing conducted their own research to determine whether the SAT is an accurate measure of a student’s knowledge. (National Center for Fair & Open Testing, 2001)
The study discovered that class rank and the GPA that is earned by a student is the most accurate measure that you can get to accurately predict the success that a freshman student will achieve their first year of college. One of the things that this study discovered was that even with a 100 point increase in the SAT scores only lead to a one tenth (.1) increase in the freshman college GPA. It was concluded that the SAT I – reasoning test was just as a accurate in measuring the success rate of the freshman students as looking at whether a applicants parents attended and completed college. (National Center for Fair & Open Testing, 2001)
The National Center for Fair & Open Testing states that “The SAT is designed to predict first-year college grades – it is not validated to predict grades beyond the freshman year, graduation rates, pursuit of a graduate degree, or for placement or advising purposes. However, according to research done my the tests’ manufactures, class rank and/or high school grades are still both better predictors of college performances than the SAT I” (The National Center for Fair & Open Testing, 2001)
Conclusion drawn from the first section of the report (support of the SAT as an inaccurate measure of the student’s academic success).
Here you have heard three different instances where the studies have shown that the SAT is not an accurate predictor of the academic success that a freshman will have. One of the conclusions that the study indicates is that at most the SAT will only help a student decide where they would like to attend college and not how well they will do while attending college. The studies find that it is not a fair assessment of student’s high school success and a very poor predictor of the success that a student will obtain in a post-secondary environment. However, there have been studies that have been performed that have more evidence that there is a true correlation between the SAT scores that were received by the students that applied for admissions and the success that was obtained at the university level.
In a report that was complied by Lawrence J. Strickler, where data from the years of 1975 and 1985 (there are two independent years, the data that pertained to the years in between this was not included in the study, since there was little to no change in the SAT between these years.) were examined. (Strickler, 1990)
The study discovered that there was a strong correlation between the freshman GPA and the class rank versus that score obtained from the on the SAT I – reasoning test. This shows that the SAT score that the student received was an accurate assessment of the performance and grades that were received by the student. A more specific breakdown from the study show that there as an exceptional correlation between the verbal scores and the class rank had a much more defined correlation from the 1985 sample of the data. The over all conclusion that was reached from this study shows that the SAT is an accurate measure of the success that a student obtains at the high school level. The author states that there is no evidence to support the hypothesis that the SAT is a valid measure for predicting the success of a freshman in college, he also says that the SAT also loses a great deal of it’s validity after the first year of college. He shares this view with many of the other reports that have been complied in response to this hypothesis. (Strickler, 1990)
A report compiled by ETS concerning the SAT’s validity when students with disabilities and extended time accommodations are allowed.
Another report that was compiled by researchers for the College Board was studying the validity of the SAT when students who qualified for extended time accommodations. In order to qualify for and extended time accommodation you have to have a learning disability that prevents concentration and could impair you causing you to loose time during the test. (Monaghan, 2003)
The data from this assessment of the validity of the SAT when time extensions are given to a student so that they ay complete the exams assessed and the study concluded that the students who were given the time accommodations scored right where they should have compared with their high school GPA and their class rank. The scores had very strong correlations between the assessments of success that were being included in this study. (Monaghan, 2003)
A report that was compiled in 2003, stated that that the SAT I – reasoning test is a very accurate measure and provide a more valid assessment of what a student accomplished during their high school career. (Noble/Camara 2003)
The reason that the authors of the study feel that the SAT is the most accurate measure is because of the different variations that come with relying on the HSGPA (high school grade point average) and the class rank. They feel this way because not every student takes the same class and many times there are fluctuations in the way that GPA is calculated (i.e. weighted classes, etc.) then there are too many inconsistencies and can lower the validity of using GPA and class rank as predictors for academic success. In many schools a student that takes a college preparatory or a college level class is rewarded with an increase in GPA. This causes severe variations in the GPA. The authors feel that when you design a test that covers information that every student takes in high school then there can’t be any variation in the test scores. They also feel that the test places everybody on the same level and shows a true comparison between the students who take the test and submit the scores during the admissions process. The authors state that:
“College admissions tests provide a standardized and objective measure of student achievement and generalized skills. Unlike high school grades or rank, admissions tests are a common measure for comparing students who attended different schools and completed different courses, received different grades in courses tough b different teachers and had access to different opportunities and experiences both in and out of school.” (Noble/Camara 2003)
They feel that a student who scores a 1000 one the SAT is not going to do as well their first year in college as a person who scored a 1300. These two students took the same test that tested the same information. One clearly did better and is expected to obtain better grades and perform more proficient in college. (Noble/Camara 2003)
Conclusion drawn from the second section of the report (support of the SAT as an accurate measure of the student’s academic success).
Here you have read about three different cases where the data supported a different argument and the decision has to be made about which side presents the stronger argument. Based on all of the information collected, both sources that were used in the research paper and those which weren’t, the decision that has to be made in favor of the arguments that do not support the SAT as an accurate measure of students knowledge and an accurate predictor of academic success. The reason behind this decision is that there were actually experiments done about testing the validity of the SAT score that was achieved by the students. The universities conducted these experiments where the supporters of the SAT as an accurate measure only offered ideas that are seemingly unsupported because there are not any experiments that were done to substantiate the claims that were made.
Changes made to the SAT to hopefully raise the validity of the test
There are changes that have been made to help eliminate the variables and hopefully make the SAT a little more reliable than it is now. The College Board has developed a writing section that is going to be scored differently than the other two sections.
This is going to hopefully give the students the opportunity to show the scorers that the may be able to write decently which has been something that has been overlook since the formation of the SAT. This will cause the SAT to have a highest achievable score of 2400, in stead of the current 1600. The first time that this new revised test will be administered will be March of 2005.
Presentation of the Stronger Argument
Based on the research that was collected in the preparation for this research paper, I have to determine that the stronger argument is that which supports the SAT as an inaccurate measure of a students knowledge, and a poor predictor of academic success. This conclusion comes from the preliminary research gathering; there was an extreme abundance of research reports that favored this argument. The research that was found concerning the other side of this argument was very scarce. I was, however, able to obtain reports that did support the argument. They were well researched but lacked a certain order that made the reports easy to read and understand. They were sometimes unclear about the position they took. On the other hand the research that was found supporting the SAT as an inaccurate measurement of academic success. The information was clear and easy to read and understand. The information that was presented in these arguments seemed to be better researched and was presented in a better manor. Sometimes the stronger argument comes from the way that the information is presented, this is very true for these arguments, but what else added to the conclusion of this paper comes from how well researched the information was, it included better support not only from the authors own research but supported their statement with data from previous studies that have been conducted. Overall the research that supported the SAT as an inaccurate measure of academic success and a poor predictor of academic success presents the stronger argument.
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Armstrong, W. B., & Carty, H. M. (2003). Reconsidering the SAT-1 for college admissions: Analysis of alternate predictors of college success. California: American Educational Research Association Brideman B., & Wendler C., (1989). Prediction of grades in college mathematics courses as a component of the placement validity of the SAT-mathematics scores: College Board research report. New York: The College Board
Dalton, S. (1978). A decline in the predictive validity of the SAT and high school assessment. No city given: ERIC clearing house
Last Updated by Ross Conover on November 30, 2004