Fourth quarter blog post

Here is my fourth quarter blog post

Monday, May 25, 2015

Racism and Downward Classism in the ACT and SAT

With the last SATs and ACTs of the year coming up, a lot of juniors have been thinking a lot about these tests and hoping to get the score they want so they will not have to continue taking them into senior year. The whole idea of a number being a huge factor in whether or not one gets into a certain college has always been puzzling to me. To me, the tests have always seemed to be unfair ways to judge someone's intelligence, but the extent of it is much greater than I had originally thought. Standardized tests favor certain races over others, certain classes over others, and because of this can and are used for the purposes of segregation in colleges.

Standardized tests favor white and Asian-American students over black and Latino students. According to Noliwe Rooks of Time Magazine, "black and Latino students in New York score below whites and Asians on standardized tests so consistently that although they are almost 70% of the overall student body, they are only 11% of students enrolled at elite public schools.". If the whole admissions process into "elite public schools", which heavily relies on standardized testing, was fair, there would be "almost 70%" of blacks and Latinos in elite public schools. The percentage of blacks and Latinos actually at these schools is significantly less than this, meaning that there is inequality in the admissions process, including the standardized tests. 

Not only do standardized tests have bias against blacks and Latinos, they also have a huge bias against lower class people, as we have discussed in class. For example, here are SAT scores in 2009 by family income:

This almost perfectly linear graph shows a clear relationship between class and test scores: the higher class you are, the higher test score you receive. As we have talked about in class, a possible reason for this is that higher class people can afford more resources, such as tutors, test preparation materials, and classes. I also believe this pattern could be caused by the fact that higher class people can afford to take the test more times, and that since there is more funding for schools in higher class areas, these schools better prepare their students for the ACT and SAT compared to lower class schools. Whatever the reason, standardized tests clearly favor higher class people, and therefore the reliance of colleges on test scores for admission creates inequality in the admission of lower class people versus higher class people to colleges. 

Because of the bias of the ACT and SAT tests that leads to inequality in college admissions, I believe that colleges should rely heavily on a more fair and equal measure of academic achievement, such as high school grades, and less on standardized tests in the admissions process. Unfortunately, the ACT and SAT are so huge a part of many colleges' admissions processes that I believe a change like this will not happen for a long time. The reason colleges are so reliant on test scores right now may be that racism and classism are very prevalent ideas in American society, and standardized tests act on these ideas by keeping people of racial minorities and lower classes away from higher education. Whatever the reason, colleges' reliance of ACT and SAT scores needs to end. 

1 comment:

  1. Jesi, Nice job blogging overall this term. This post is timely given the season of testing and given our focus on class. Your points are strong and I like the graphic and the link. You might also extend the class advantages to books in household, educational attainment of family members, school resources, etc. Overall, though, nice work!