This I Believe

Walter - newtown, Connecticut
Entered on May 30, 2007

The standardization of America is everywhere. This certainly increases efficiency in many things, but there is one thing that cannot be standardized and that is, unequivocally, education for the simple reason that not all students are from an assembly line and, sadly, not all schools are equal. I believe in equal opportunity when it comes to enrolling in colleges, and the first step towards this is amending the SAT.

We pride ourselves as a country on our ability to provide education to everybody, but the tragic truth is that not all kids get the same quality of schooling. The undeniable fact is that a public school in the inner city Bronx is nowhere near as well off in faculty, funding, learning environment, or equipment as a school in the suburbs of Connecticut. After realizing the obvious fact that not all secondary schools are the same, it’s only logical to denounce a test that calls them even and judges them by the same score regardless of other influences.

The SAT as we know it has been a benchmark of college admissions for far too long. Certainly some students are smarter and deserve higher praises and opportunities in college, but that shows up clear as day in their grade point average. Colleges will even tell you that GPA is far more important than the SAT because you simply cannot equate thousands of hours spent on homework and in class to four hours sitting at a desk with a number two pencil. There is only one way to make the SAT truly efficient or appropriate: we must make it pass or fail. Period. No more seven hundreds or four hundreds, no more scores predictable by income. The difficulty level must be evened to the point where if someone has the skills that kid will pass, if not, he will fail. Colleges will not be able to judge you against your peers with something that can be affected for better or worse by everything from the kind of breakfast you ate to which version of the test you got to if you have allergies. Something so fickle simply cannot be so important. This system will still provide colleges with a tool with which they can deny or accept applicants, but without giving advantage where none is due. With a pass or fail SAT, a kid from Crenshaw, who is naturally bright, but is knocked around by his environment and denied the opportunities to properly prepare for the SAT would be able to PASS and then a kid who gets Cs and Ds in all his high school classes, but his parents are loaded so they get him a special tutor and he scores a 1250 on his SATs would FAIL because it’ll be about really knowing the skills, not just how to beat the test. It’s time to cut out the layer of privilege that warms those already near the fire because there are far too many who are cold.