Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Standardized tests: An outdated educational system

Mohitha Ravikumar

2.1 million high school seniors sat to take the SAT in 2020. The following year, only 1.5 million were tested. The SAT is one of the most well-known standardized tests for college admissions applications in the United States, however, with the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, many universities made testing optional in light of people being unable to take it. Now, with everything relatively back to normal, we should ask: Should standardized tests be discontinued?

Standardized testing may help to win you recognition among your peers and win you scholarships to avoid student loan debt, however, it also has an insidious past. The SAT was developed by the College Board with the help of psychologist Carl Brigham, who had also developed aptitude tests for the U.S. Army to openly discriminate against soldiers by “race and by test scores” during World War I. In addition, people of color (POC) tend to score lower on college admissions tests, therefore creating a gap in college enrollments and completion.

Discrimination does not only target POC however, it also targets families that are low-income as “students with [a] family income of $100,000 or more are more than twice as likely as students with [a] family income under $50,000 to have combined SAT test scores of 1400 to 1600.” How does this affect enrollments at Ivy Leagues? It does about what one would expect, with these colleges having a significantly below-average enrollment of Black or African-American students, Hispanic or Latino students and Pell Grant recipients, despite being some of the nation’s wealthiest colleges. They are also the colleges with some of the highest SAT scores.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, a world without standardized testing looked like a dream, and not one under easy reach. Now, over 80% of colleges are going test-optional or score-free for the Fall 2023 semester, including our own campus — for freshman applicants at least — who went test-optional when the pandemic hit and it currently does not look like it is being repealed. Last academic year, over 1,835 colleges had a test-optional or score-free policy, meaning that only 85 colleges reverted the pandemic-era testing policies, an impressive feat. That list includes both California State University and the entire University of California system, which teaches over 475,000 students.

Do standardized tests carry any benefit at all past admission? Surprisingly, past the admissions process they have shown to be beneficial in some areas.

Graduation rates shown by a graph created by point out that the higher the SAT score, the higher the chance of graduation is, with this data being of state flagship universities. The average SAT score for these schools ranges from 1105 to 1425, a spread of 320 points, and the retention rate ranges from 68% to 97%.

Surprisingly, there is a greater variation in college productivity at lower performance levels than at higher performance levels as shown by a graphical representation of college retention data by the same source.

While taking standardized tests may bring some benefits, including for those who want to go to colleges like MIT, there is also historical data proving discrimination for the disadvantaged.

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About the Contributors
Andrew Dotson
Andrew Dotson, Staff Writer
Andrew (He/Him) is a Freshman at UTSA majoring in Cybersecurity. His hobbies include coding, gaming, tinkering with Raspberry Pi and helping educate and teach others about technology
Mohitha Ravikumar
Mohitha Ravikumar, Graphic Artist
Mohitha Ravikumar (she/her) is a sophomore pursuing a Computer Engineering degree at UTSA. Outside Paisano you can find her drawing, painting and creating new artworks.

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