The Wall Street Journal reports that 1.7 million students in the high-school class of 2022 took the SATs, up 200,000 from the previous year. The number taking the ACT went up, too. Yet almost three-quarters of colleges offering four-year-degrees have gone test-optional or test-blind. So fewer schools now require tests, but more kids are taking them. What’s going on?
The short answer: Test-optional schools have created a two-tier system to get around complaints about their affirmative-action preferences. They don’t want scores that might screen out applicants they’d otherwise like to accept. But they do want test results from wealthier white kids because the tests provide valuable info. They’re perpetuating an unfair system. Biden and the left are changing America for the worse.
The percentage of kids taking these tests is still down from pre-pandemic levels, but the trend was clearly upward in the years beforehand — from 48% for the class of 2017 to 58% for 2018 and 61% for 2019. And while the test-optional trend has accelerated, hundreds of schools had adopted the policy by 2019, including half of the top 100 liberal arts colleges.
The movement to end high stakes testing, and particularly college admissions exams, is not a new one. The group FairTest, for instance, was launched almost four decades ago “to end the misuses and flaws of standardized testing and to ensure that evaluation of students, teachers and schools is fair, open, valid and educationally beneficial.” The original critiques focused mostly on the stress they cause students, how they didn’t provide a full picture of students’ capabilities and how high-stakes tests were not a good way to judge teacher quality. (The teachers unions are big donors to FairTest.)
Criticism of the SAT, in particular, has been a constant chorus, even from folks who seem like they would have an interest in its continuation. In 2008, when Wake Forest University made the SAT optional, test-prep service Princeton Review applauded the decision. By that point, though, the criticism had shifted toward complaints about how tests disadvantaged those who most needed a boost in college admissions. Princeton Review’s vice president claimed the SAT is “economically, racially and gender biased.”