schools and standardized testing

HSchinske at aol.com HSchinske at aol.com
Tue Dec 21 19:32:42 EST 2004


In a message dated 12/21/04 5:37:03 PM Central Standard Time, Allison Marles <
apm at alumni.uwaterloo.ca> writes:


> I'm glad we don't have the whole standardized testing thing in Canada.
> I took the SATs so I could apply to some American universities ... and
> what a joke.  I suspect they mostly test your ability to do well at
> tests with a bit of reliance on a decent vocabulary and some other basic
> skills, but nothing more than that.  I've seen several articles
> mentioning studies that show that the SATs don't really correlate to
> your likelihood of success at university.  

Low or medium scores don't correlate very well with being likely to fail or 
be mediocre, but very high scores really aren't possible unless you're pretty 
bright. That's why the colleges go on wanting them as one part of the data -- 
if you take a kid with high SATs, you may be getting a flake or whatever, but 
you're not getting one who's thick as a brick. They do have quite a bit of 
ceiling, so you can see a significant difference between, say, the 99th percentile 
and the 99.9th, for instance.

Of course not *all* the bright people have high SAT scores, only a subset of 
them with a particular *sort* of smarts. Same with any criterion, really -- 
high scores always mean more than low scores. (Mediocre scores don't necessarily 
keep you out, either, if your grades are good -- I can certainly think of 
people I went to school with who got into quite tough colleges, like Smith, with 
not-so-great scores.)

Mind you, in my day they were harder (the number of people who got 1600s in 
any given year used to be really, really tiny, instead of only kind of tiny). 
The modern ones may be less useful, don't know.

Helen Schinske
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