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The Sat And Its Role In Public Policy

1587 words - 7 pages

Today, in the United States, standardized tests are administered every year by states to their Kindergarten-12th grade public school students. Different states place different weight on their standardized testing results where some states differ their funding based on results and annual improvement, whereas other states allow schools to simply gauge where their students are scoring relative to other schools in the state. These tests, however, are only standardized within one state. One of the few tests standardized throughout the entire country is the SAT, the Scholastic Aptitude Test, administered by College Board and required by, “More than 800 of the nation’s colleges and universities,” (Comras, 1984). This test will be the standardized test focused on in this paper. While standardized testing is that, standardized, and enables the comparison of one student to another, the meaning of the score does not equate to a test of intelligence. Therefore, while standardized testing should be applied in the education system, it needs to be more indicative of the material learned in school and should hold less weight than it currently does in the college admissions process.
Many psychology theories have been developed in order to determine how to measure intelligence. Volume 63 of the Annual Review of Psychology details a few studies citing popular theories from the 1970s to 2000 (Deary, 2012), including the measurement of, “sensory discrimination and reaction time,” (Deary, 2012). After 2000, however, “interest has focused, in the broadly psychometric-experimental levels, on processing speed and working memory as potential explanatory variables for intelligence,” (Deary, 2012). In measuring intelligence, scientists are focusing on measuring intelligence by brain patterns and reaction times. While psychologists and more recently neurologists (Deary, 2012) are trying to determine more accurate measures of intelligence, any expert in the field has yet to claim standardized testing is a legitimate measure. In fact, “William T. Turnbull, a former president of ETS [Educational Testing Service], stated ‘…the scores are by no means infallible guides and should always be used as only one factor in an judgment about whether a student is likely to do well in college…’” (Comras, 1984). The president of the agency that administers the test taken by about one-third of the country’s high school graduates (Comras, 1984) never intended for the test to measure intelligence, but rather to predict a student’s success in higher education. With these different, and changing, measures of intelligence, the most basic definition that can be agreed on, as developed by psychologist David Wechsler and as stated in Visualizing Psychology, is that intelligence is “the global capacity to think rationally, act purposefully, and deal effectively with the environment,” (Carpenter & Huffman, 2013, p. 213). Given even intelligence’s most basic definition, the SAT does...

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