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College Admissions: SAT Plagued With Issues

Monday, June 15, 2015

 

Students prepare for weeks, months, and some for years. Parents can spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars on tutors and prep courses. Then, SAT test day arrives. There is an assumption that the test administration will run smoothly; that assumption is flawed. The reality is that the Collegeboard and its’ test centers have been plagued for years with issues and errors, none more glaring than on June 6. 

Nationwide, proctors told nearly half a million students that they had 20 minutes to complete a reading section. The printed test that the students received said that they had 25 minutes. Shortly after the test finished at noon Eastern Time, the error was identified, but it was too late. Test takers waited anxiously to receive word as to whether their tests would be graded or invalidated. Ultimately, the Collegeboard did decide to grade the tests, stating in a press release, "We have deliberately constructed both the reading and the math tests to include three equal sections with roughly the same level of difficulty. If one of the three sections is jeopardized, the correlation among sections is sufficient to be able to deliver reliable scores." Unfortunately, students who felt they did particularly well on the discarded section are left wondering if their scores will be disadvantaged. 

This was not the first time that a lack of quality control has colored the reputation of the Collegeboard. In 2006, a Pearson Educational Measurement audit revealed that 4,000 students received artificially low scores due to high moisture levels when tests were scanned for grading. Allegations have circulated for years regarding massive cheating on the SAT in Asian countries, and last month, 15 Chinese nationals were charged for impersonating students at testing centers. In 2011, seven Long Island test takers were arrested in an SAT cheating probe. Locally, my students have reported a variety of unsatisfactory situations over the last 5 years. Some have been at test centers with insufficient desks, forcing several students take the test on a window sill. Others have been distracted by blaring music coming from the iPod headphones of an instructor as they took the test. And a few with extended time for learning differences have experienced problems with instructions and timing.

All of these inconsistencies and errors reignite the national debate as to whether standardized testing is an accurate measure of student knowledge. A 3 year study by the National Association for College Admissions Counseling, titled “Defining Promise: Optional Standardized Testing Policies in American College and University Admissions” concluded in 2014 that college GPAs for students submitting SATs and not submitting SATs at test optional colleges did not differ substantially:

“With almost 123,000 students at 33 widely differing institutions, the differences between submitters and non-submitters are five one-hundredths of a GPA point, and six-tenths of one percent in graduation rates. By any standard, these are trivial differences.”

Reacting to the June 6 SAT debacle, Bob Schaeffer, Public Education Director for FairTest said “This foul-up will further accelerate the movement for college and university admissions offices to drop SAT requirements."

Cristiana Quinn, M.Ed. is the founder of College Admission Advisors, LLC which provides strategic college counseling, SAT prep and athletic recruiting services www.collegeadvisorsonline.com.

 

Related Slideshow: Top New England ROI Colleges in 2014 Ranked By Forbes

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2. Dartmouth College

Hanover, NH

Grateful Graduate Index Score: 100

Median Donation Per Student Over a 10 Year Period: $27,464

Percentage of Students that Donate: 44%

Forbes Ranking Page

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3. Williams College

Williamstown, MA

Grateful Graduate Index Score: 99.9

Median Donation Per Student Over a 10 Year Period: $23,346

Percentage of Students that Donate: 53%

Forbes Ranking Page

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5. Bowdoin College

Brunswick, ME

Grateful Graduate Index Score: 99.4

Median Donation Per Student Over a 10 Year Period: $19,598

Percentage of Students that Donate: 44%

Forbes Ranking Page

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6. Amherst College

Amherst, MA

Grateful Graduate Index Score: 99

Median Donation Per Student Over a 10 Year Period: $18,752

Percentage of Students that Donate: 52%

Forbes Ranking Page

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8. Wellesley College

Wellesley, MA

Grateful Graduate Index Score: 98.5

Median Donation Per Student Over a 10 Year Period: $17,958

Percentage of Students that Donate: 47%

Forbes Ranking Page

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9. Brown University

Providence, RI

Grateful Graduate Index Score: 97.4

Median Donation Per Student Over a 10 Year Period: $21,694

Percentage of Students that Donate: 29%

Forbes Ranking Page

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12. Yale University

New Haven, CT

Grateful Graduate Index Score: 96.7

Median Donation Per Student Over a 10 Year Period: $30,033

Percentage of Students that Donate: 28%

Forbes Ranking Page

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13. MIT

Cambridge, MA

Grateful Graduate Index Score: 95.1

Median Donation Per Student Over a 10 Year Period: $36,763

Percentage of Students that Donate: 25%

Forbes Ranking Page

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20. Harvard University

Cambridge, MA

Grateful Graduate Index Score: 91.4

Median Donation Per Student Over a 10 Year Period: $25,122

Percentage of Students that Donate: 19%

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22. Middlebury College

Middlebury, VT

Grateful Graduate Index Score: 90.6

Median Donation Per Student Over a 10 Year Period: $14,033

Percentage of Students that Donate: 42%

Forbes Ranking Page

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33. Trinity College

Hartford, CT

Grateful Graduate Index Score: 84

Median Donation Per Student Over a 10 Year Period: $12,772

Percentage of Students that Donate: 42%

Forbes Ranking Page

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34. Brandeis University

Waltham, MA

Grateful Graduate Index Score: 83.8

Median Donation Per Student Over a 10 Year Period: $14,045

Percentage of Students that Donate: 22%

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35. Colby College

Waterville, ME

Grateful Graduate Index Score: 79.2

Median Donation Per Student Over a 10 Year Period: $12,092

Percentage of Students that Donate: 39%

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41. Smith College

Northampton, MA

Grateful Graduate Index Score: 73.8

Median Donation Per Student Over a 10 Year Period: $11,555

Percentage of Students that Donate: 32%

Forbes Ranking Page

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49. Wesleyan University

Middleton, CT

Grateful Graduate Index Score: 53.6

Median Donation Per Student Over a 10 Year Period: $9,358

Percentage of Students that Donate: 41%

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