American Morning

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August 31st, 2009
04:00 PM ET

We Listen – Your comments 8/31/2009

Editor's Note: Monday’s American Morning story on the SATs garnered divided response, as some felt such standardized tests were nothing more than a barrier to higher education. Others believed the tests were important to help maintain a higher standards for educational institutions.

  • Mickey: Recently my daughter was studying to take the GRE's for entrance to a masters program. Her life long dream is to be a Doctor of Psychology. After several rebellious years she turned her life around. She has her BA in Psyche. Faced with the GRE's, she did not do well because of her severe anxiety. I know she has a deep love and passion to help people with mental illness. If the GRE's like the SAT's makes it unobtainable for her that is a tragedy. Abstract thinking can not always be measured. I think they should not be required to have that much weight.
  • Jonathan: Carol Costello's report on the SATs was grossly misleading. They are not designed to measure intelligence but knowledge. She also presents some air head kids who complain about how hard it is. The great problem with education is that students and their parents want everything to be easy. And CNN goes along with the rest of the media encouraging that self pity. Soon we will have a nation even dumber that it is, unable to do much and certainly not to compete with the children of other countries who require that their children learn even if it is tough. The SATs may be the only generalized measure of how much or how little kids know going into higher education. It is moreover terribly wrong to try and twist this story into an investigation of SAT staff salaries. I took the SATs years ago. It wasn't such an agony. This report of Costello’s was a misrepresentation of facts, an editorial rather than a report and an encouragement to a backward ill educated public.
  • Kathleen: The SAT is a valuable measure of one's learned knowledge, which needed to advance that knowledge and succeed in college. We have had enough dumbing down of our educational system, television and other media. Let's keep our standards high. And what is wrong with a little angst?

How do you feel about the SATs? Are they useful or outdated? What has your experience been with the SAT and other standardized tests?

Filed under: We Listen
soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. David

    With regards to Jason Carroll's piece on testing while driving, I have one question. Who will police the police? One of the worst cell phone while driving users that I have seen are the police. They should not be be using a cell phone or any other non-work communications while they are on duty (breaks are okay).

    How much have the police missed because they are being distracted just like regular drivers? They need to have their FULL ATTENTION on the road and looking around.

    That will give us the best safety and security.

    September 1, 2009 at 9:02 am |
  2. Brian Riback - Waldwick, NJ

    There is NO difference now than when I was in high school. Like everything else in this America, the College Board has SUCH political ties...they're not going anywhere. Let's argue this all day but the TRUE argument is, if they were found outdated, could we even get rid of them? My guess is no. They demonstrate NOTHING about the AVERAGE student and when we have so many kids not making it to college because they are too busy on the streets with drugs and guns, what is the possible point of investing money into standardized tests instead of survival education?

    September 1, 2009 at 7:38 am |
  3. Dr. Robert Melczarek

    One of the debates missing in regards to education is to what degree standardized tests actually measure what they say they measure. Too many people simply assume that they do. The SAT test is a classic example of one that does only partially. SAT is supposed to measure scholastic aptitude. If that was true, then those who score higher would tend to be more successful in college overall.

    It has been well documented for quite awhile that SAT scores partially predict success only in the first year of college. Nothing beyond that. That is understandable since for most students, the first year is the type of general studies that the test measures. After students start taking more courses directly related to their major, SAT scores pretty much mean nothing. I have always believed that a major failing of the SAT is that it does not take into account the various sets of scholastics skills needed for the various college majors. Why should prospective art, engineering, mathematics, political science and business majors take the same entrance exam?

    If you compare the SAT and ACT to Advanced Placement tests that some high school students take to receive college credit for specific courses, you will see a huge difference. AP tests are many different tests that have a good mixture of multiple choice and free response (which most people would call essay) questions and each test is narrowly focused. The grading is done by many well trained experts. The SAT is still predominantly multiple choice with a very broad general focus in a single test. Why can't we change the SAT away from that. Too expensive! One general mostly multiple choice test can be graded by a machine for one thing.

    Several books have been written on why the SAT is not the fair and accurate measure of scholastic aptitude that many assume it is. I cannot do justice in this small space to the valid arguments against the SAT. I'll agree that getting a good score on the SAT or ACT is a real achievement. But I don't agree that it automatically means that person is more deserving of entry into college. But too many people feel that a higher score implies greater scholastic ability gained on a level playing field for any real meaningful changes to occur. Unfortunately fairness is measured more and more by how it favors one's own interests.

    Dr. Robert Melczarek, Ph.D.
    Educational Technology, University of Florida

    August 31, 2009 at 11:21 pm |
  4. Patricia

    P.S. Thank you for the opportunity to share this information in a more public forum.

    August 31, 2009 at 11:12 pm |
  5. R M

    Totally agree with Doug. That is what I have been constantly trying to say in today's blog !
    Education is important, fears of test taking must be learnt to overcome just as the kids learn to overcome their fear of the new scary roller coaster or a bungee jump in a theme park. the good thing about facing testing taking fears is the student grows into a more confident adult and this nation is looking for such brave and intelligent people to face the serious challenges that will come by.

    Let us help our kids in their education with compassion and care:-)

    August 31, 2009 at 8:24 pm |
  6. Doug - Dallas

    Unfortunately, this country has been lowering it's education standard for years evidenced by where we stand as a country when compared to the rest of the world. While the relevancy of the SAT test has been questioned for years, there is a certain level of intelligence and commitment required to succeed in college. No question the anticipation of the tests are brutal, I certainly remember the one I took over 40 years ago.

    We as a country have to do a better job in educating our children and holding them to the proper standards which will allow them to be successful in high school, college and in life. A college education should be available to all who want one and are willing to work to get there.

    August 31, 2009 at 7:01 pm |
  7. Dennis

    If it is the case that admission to college or graduate schools isn't based solely on one test score, then I have no problem with the SAT, ACT, GRE, or MEDCATs. Sure, people "game" the test to skew their results upward. That's a result of competition. From a sociological point of view, reality would indicate some people shouldn't go to college because they can't afford it–the part that really chaps my ass is those who can afford college and believe they are better than someone who cannot afford it just because they got into college. I wanted to be a lawyer–but ended up an over-educated electronics tech. Life isn't fair–why would you expect people to be fair?

    August 31, 2009 at 5:10 pm |