Standardized testing is the engine of meritocracy. When the College Board standardized testing through the SAT, it introduced merit to an educational system where status was determined by family history.
A poor immigrant who studied hard and worked hard might have a shot at the best schools in the land.
Over a century later, the College Board has announced that the Scholastic Assessment Test will include an adversity score based on zip codes that purports to measure the social environment of the student.
After nearly a century of trying to measure intelligence, instead of class, the SAT will collude in a college admission system where class overwhelms merit to a degree unseen since 18th century Harvard.
The latest assault on standardized testing assumes that the individual student should be defined by the income, education and family averages of his zip code, more than by his actual skills and learning in a complete reversal of the entire purpose of the SAT and the meritocratic work of the College Board.
Ironically, the College Board fell victim to the success of a college dropout from a wealthy family.
William Henry Gates III, more commonly known as Bill Gates, has wielded the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation as a tool for wrecking education with Common Core and has hijacked the College Board, which began as a conclave of elite college leaders, into pursuing his radical social and political agendas.
The downfall of the College Board began when it picked David Coleman, a Gates alumnus who had played a significant role in writing Common Core standards, as its new president. Coleman, a Rhodes Scholar, the son of a Bennington College president and New School dean, had degrees from Yale, Cambridge and Oxford. By the age of 25, he was working at McKinsey as an educational consultant.
The rest of the story was an escalator ride through the consulting industry that destroyed education.
Coleman’s interviews are littered with claims of wanting to teach in public school, but instead he built a consulting firm that scored contracts with public schools. The consultancy was acquired by the McGraw-Hill behemoth, and Coleman moved on to founding a non-profit, with funding from the Gates Foundation, where he played a key role in creating the Gates-approved Common Core standards.
In 2012, Coleman became the president of the College Board. Even though the professional educational consultant had never actually taught, he had been put in charge of school and then college standards.
A year later, Stefanie Sanford, the Gates Foundation’s policy director, was brought on as the Board’s head of policy, erasing the distinctions between Gates and the College Board, already funded by Gates.
Stefanie’s official mission was pursuing “equity” in education on behalf of minority students.
The collapse of SAT standards began with the official Gates hijacking of the College Board. The new dumbed down test reduced the number of multiple-choice answers, eliminated penalties for guessing, disposed of many vocabulary words, and made the essay portion optional.
And, most importantly, from the Gates Foundation perspective, it integrated with Common Core.
“It was a bad year, and I’m sorry,” Coleman admitted in 2016. “It is no good to have vision if you don’t deliver.”
The new SAT rollout had been a disaster, but Coleman ricocheted from one disaster to another. A year later, the College Board wrapped up testing its Overall Disadvantage Level, or the adversity score
The level or score is a bad idea implemented in the most ridiculous way possible.
The adversity score uses high school and zip code information to depict students as advantaged or disadvantaged based on statistical averages. The number of students getting free lunches, literally and perhaps metaphorically, at a high school, tells administrators nothing about this individual student.
Crime rates and housing prices are even more useless, especially in dense urban areas where good and bad neighborhoods can overlap. A white student growing up in a gentrified part of Manhattan or the Bronx could be rated as disadvantaged. Meanwhile a middle-class black student moving into a decent neighborhood would be rated as advantaged. And, worst of all, the ratings are hidden from everyone.
Qualities like adversity are inherently unquantifiable. No test can measure the life you’ve lived or the challenges you have overcome. Instead they measure the skills and discipline you have learned.
We don’t measure people’s achievements by their bios, but by what they can actually do.
Beyond the terrible implementation of a terrible idea, a staple of the educational disasters wrought by Bill Gates, who has done for education what he did for operating systems, and David Coleman, is the larger philosophical problem. And Coleman, who has a degree in ancient philosophy, ought to be able to understand that, even if he doesn’t seem to understand how students learn or how tests operate.
The core criticism of the SAT is that wealthy parents can afford to spend more on test prep.
(Despite the College Board’s supposed hostility to test prep, its leadership is filled with Kaplan vets.)
The most aggressive users of test prep courses are the ‘Tiger Moms’ who spend fortunes to see to it that their children get into the best possible schools. Between 15% and 30% of Asian students took test prep courses and experienced significant gains. Only 10% of white students, the whipping boys of standardized testing, took test prep courses, and they only gained 12 points. Meanwhile 11% of Hispanic and 16% of black students took test prep courses and posted larger gains than the white students.