Educational Editorial: Is the SAT becoming irrelevant?

By Dr. William Bosher, NBC12 Educational Specialist

Taking a break from text messages, high school seniors are looking at a more traditional form of communication: the mail. This is the season when colleges send out those greatly anticipated envelopes, thick if you have been accepted and thin if rejected. Underclassmen are in turn sending in their registrations to take SAT preparation courses that will help them to score well on the perennial college admission test. But, what does the SAT tell us about the potential success of a college student?

"How did you do on the SAT?" We are so enamored with this indicator that economic development officials commit to memory the latest averages that will attract new companies. Private schools teach it to ensure that their customers are satisfied and colleges report averages to improve their ranking with US News and World Report. But, does it matter.

The best predictor of success in college is a student's GPA, grade point average: what he or she has does over time. It is not a "one shot in the barrel" test taken on a Saturday morning.

In 2000 the Dean of Enrollment at Mt Holyoke said, "It is time for academic institutions to reject the all-too-pervasive view that the SAT effectively measures intelligence or potential future success." Wake Forest is the first of the top 30 institutions to make the SAT optional for admissions.  The class entering this Fall will be the first not to be required to submit scores with their applications.  In 2008, the Provost, chief academic officer, at Wake Forest said, "While many top tier universities are increasing their reliance on standardized testing in the admissions process, recent research suggests that standardized tests are not valuable predictors of college success."

For those opening their acceptance letters, the SAT score probably will not get you in but, sadly, in many instances it could keep you out. So continue to give it your best shot...and until others like Wake decide to put the SAT in perspective,  remember, nothing replaces hard work over time.

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