The SAT and standardized testing generally have been under attack for a few years now, but I don’t think the arguments discrediting it hold much merit. After all, the rest of the metric-system-using globe relies almost exclusively on standardized testing scores for placement into higher education; it seems a bit like American arrogance to dismiss it for more subjective measurements of students.
As many statistics as I see correlating GPA to ‘life success’ or ‘college success’ metrics, I must point out that GPA is a highly variable metric to measure students from one school to the next. Grades are simply not a reliable way of measuring a person’s intellect, and our institutions of higher education are the places where we should be cultivating the next thought-leaders of the country, so they may lead us out of kakistocracy and mayhem. That is their purpose. The unreliability of grading as a metic of intellectual ability seems more certain to me than all correlative studies measuring flimsy qualitative metrics. A country with big problems needs strong thought-leaders, strong thought-leaders are the product of high standards, and standards are by quantitative tests.
I’m happy that mechanical engineer has overcome a childhood injury and offers strong character, I truly am, but if I was the astronaut riding on top of 200,000 gallons of fuel, I’d prefer to have the person who has the best track record of correct calculation rather than the better story if it meant my life. If we’re talking about negotiation with Russian leaders over diplomacy that would avoid WWIII, I’d rather have the ambassador that is best able to take formal, complex lingual data, analyze it relative to the culture of origination, and make a strategic statement to formalize peace rather than the the candidate who overcame blindness to reach unexpected success in higher education, but isn’t quite as solid on Russian. Public sympathy loves stories, but our society will most certainly erode if we let ourselves become cowardly victims to our own soft-heartedness. The Russians don’t care. The fuel in the rocket doesn’t care. Pathos cannot overcome reality, for reality is undefeated.
Unfortunately, social media has given wings to all opinions, no matter how harsh, bizarre, maudlin or ridiculous. It has turned a media-driven culture into a media-driven circus, where the most extreme, polarizing opinion wins the day and foments decision making. There is only one antidote to the power of omnipresent, vomitrocious opinion: fact. There is one solution to implicit biases, racism, nepotism, favoritism, hegemony: truth. Facts and truths, consensus should be leading our educational system, the bedrock of society. Not stories.
What the educational system needs desperately is not an elimination of its standards, but something insidiously more obvious: equitable funding. Good teachers are flocking away from education now for its long hours, high involvement, prerequisite training, and above all, its measly salary. This is particularly true at a public level, but even private institutions are affected. The disparity of education has never been greater. This doesn’t call for an elimination of standards, but for an equality of quality. This is precisely why educational reform is 100 times more critical to me than amending or eliminating tests of merit.