SAT Is Not An Achievement Test

March 17, 2019

Editor: The Citizens’ Voice continues to fail in providing subscribers with substantive information on basic education. On March 3 it published “Four high schools exceed state SAT average,” adding insult to injury to local public schools. The SAT purports to predict the likelihood of a student’s first semester/first year productivity in higher education. Credible research suggests that it’s a marginal predictor at best. A number of universities have dropped the SAT or made it optional for prospective students to submit their SAT scores. This trend will continue. The SAT is primarily an ability inventory, not an achievement test. Ideally, the SAT streamlines students’ eligibility for college. It does not contribute nor attest to students’ readiness for college — most pivotal for college success. Some high schools offer SAT prep packages or courses, which should be disclosed and footnoted. Also, a number of students pay privately to attend SAT preparation programs. For the most part, such programs focus on strategies for taking the SAT at the expense of learning essential content. These features do not dismiss the reality of the SAT’s role in facilitating students’ eligibility for college. These features do, however, help put the instrument’s limited usefulness in perspective. Notwithstanding, no one benefits from any type of school rankings—except perhaps on the sports page. Such lists imply and are oftentimes interpreted as one school is better than another. As the profound comments by a local superintendent in the article infer, a school’s effectiveness cannot be quantified. The most important things that matter most in schools are not measurable. One can only hope that education stakeholders are not deceived into placing any trustworthiness in the flawed notions implied in this article—no matter their school’s rank. Vito A. Forlenza HUGHESTOWN