The Rant

Pushing Back on the NY Times & More Truths about the SAT, Grade Inflation & College Admissions

February 27, 2024 Eloy Oakley/Akil Bello & Jon Boeckenstedt Season 2 Episode 15
The Rant
Pushing Back on the NY Times & More Truths about the SAT, Grade Inflation & College Admissions
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Prepare to have your assumptions about standardized testing turned on their head as Eloy Ortiz Oakley digs into the heart of the SAT debate with insights from Jon Boeckenstedt and Akil Bello. This riveting discussion slices through the veil of media advocacy for high-stakes exams, revealing potential biases and the untold stories behind the statistics. As we pick apart a recent New York Times piece by David Leonhardt, the episode raises questions about the College Board's influence and the reliance on flawed data in the fight to keep the SAT relevant. Our guests don't hold back, confronting misinformation and dismantling the simplistic narrative that standardized tests are the golden ticket to fair college admissions.

The conversation shifts gears to confront the real-life hurdles overshadowing GPAs and SATs in determining college success. As Eloy, Jon, and Akil expose the College Board's aggressive marketing strategies, listeners are prompted to consider whether educators' assessments carry more weight than standardized metrics. This chapter peels back the layers of contradiction between the value placed on teacher evaluations and the perceived necessity for standardized benchmarks. The episode also questions the impact of grade inflation and emerging AI technologies like ChatGPT on the educational landscape, and whether these factors are mere distractions from the more pressing issues facing students today.

Wrapping up the dialogue, our insightful trio handles the hot-button topic of grade inflation and the burgeoning trend of test-optional policies with finesse. Dive into a conversation that challenges the notion that an uptick in GPA reflects diminishing standards, and hear directly from a university representative about Oregon State's experience transitioning to test-optional admissions. This episode doesn't just skim the surface—it explores the intertwined layers of education reform, cultural narratives, and the political theater influencing university policies. Join us on The Rant for a no-holds-barred exploration into the complex world of standardized testing and its place in higher education.

Speaker 1:

Hi, I'm Eloy Ortiz Oakley and welcome back to the rant, the podcast where we pull back the curtain and break down the people, the policies and the politics of our higher education system. In this episode I get to welcome back two of my original guests and the only two guests who are making a return appearance thus far on the rant. And, by the way, I'm also proud to say that they dropped off the College Board Christmas card list many years ago, so they're good with me. In any case, I'm welcoming back John Bokenstette, vice Provost of Enrollment Management at the Oregon State University, go Beavers and Akil Bello, who needs no introduction. He's sort of the sage on the stage when it comes to all things SAT and standardized testing. So they're back again to talk more about the SAT and the ACT and to also push back on some of the elitists in the media who have recently made calls to bring back the days of high stake standardized testing in our college and university admissions processes. So with that backdrop, john and Akil, welcome back to the rant.

Speaker 2:

Good morning, aloy. It's great to be here, hi, akil.

Speaker 1:

Hey, how's it going? Thanks for having us All right. Well, thanks for coming back. Let's jump right into the questions. If folks want to learn more about your background, they can go back to the original episode, the myth busting episode.

Speaker 1:

But let's just jump right into some of the more recent media calls that have come up and let's specifically talk about the New York Times and David Lee and Hart. I know you all know David. David's written many pieces about higher education over the years and I've certainly read a lot of his musings, had a chance to meet him, I think generally I enjoy reading his pieces, but this one caught me a little bit by surprise or maybe it shouldn't have caught me by surprise, because it is in New York Times. He recently published an op-ed in the Times titled the Misguided War on the SAT. So as you read it, as you heard from your colleagues, your friends, your ex slash Twitter followers, John, let's start with you, especially since I gave Akil more time the last time around. Let's start with you. What was your reaction and what are your thoughts now that you've had a chance to think about that piece?

Speaker 2:

Well, my first reaction was that this is sort of a part of an orchestrated college board campaign to make their product relevant again. It seemed to me, and I don't have any proof of this, but knowing how the college board works and going back to the movie where Akil is the star of the test and the art of thinking, Richard Incanson, who was the chancellor, the president of the UC system in 2000, said that when he tried to eliminate the SAT back then, the college board mounted a huge public relations campaign and got admissions officers to write op-eds and go on media and support the test.

Speaker 2:

And it just struck me that the lack of dissenting voices in Leigh and Hart's article suggested someone had delivered a nice little neat package to him from the college board, all tied up with a pretty bow on top with all the information he needed to write that piece. You know he cited the University of California faculty study, but he didn't mention Saul Geiser's rebuttal of it, which I think was really excellent. The New York Times is a business, of course, and the people who read the New York Times are probably those who are likely to benefit from the SAT the most, so it makes perfect sense that they would do that. I just found it really one-sided and, as others have pointed out, the statistical analysis that was contained in it was actually off by a few knuckles. So it's not uncommon to see stuff like that in the media or even big publications, but I was really disappointed in it.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I agree. I mean the point that you mentioned, which David mentioned in his piece about the UC faculty. I mean he failed to mention everything else that had gone on the conversation that had gone on for two years at the University of California Board of Regents and that faculty study. You know, one of the biggest questions that was raised at that point was it wasn't peer reviewed, it was just a cobbling together of some data that the faculty pulled together, as opposed to Saul Geiser, who has published a lot of data, has had it out there for quite some time. I thought it was really interesting how David and others have cherry-picked some of the data that I'm sure was handed to them by certain folks over at the College Board. So I haven't go ahead.

Speaker 2:

I haven't counted, but I seem to recall that in something like a hundred page documents the UC faculty senate produced, the College Board and its research was mentioned over 50 times, which doesn't mean that it's wrong, but it does mean that it's important to take a deeper look and be more suspicious of it. So I think that's an important element for people to remember too.

Speaker 1:

That's right. I was in those conversations and there was certainly a lot of data in the faculty report that were accurate, but it wasn't compelling enough to cause the University to think that this was worth the time, the effort, the challenges it created in the field, the cost it created for learners of all types in California to justify keeping it. So I think that was the issue, not that everything was junk or that there was no merit to any of the reports that were published, any of the data that was published. It was just that there wasn't compelling evidence to motivate us to keep the test. So, akhil, what was your reaction when you read it and after you got about a few thousand pings on your phone?

Speaker 3:

I think, so what's interesting is when it came out. I have been known to dissect articles on the internet from time to time. The technical term might be fisking. Some people call it a hate read. I started writing stuff about it and then I kept stopping because A I was overwhelmed with the volume of nonsense. I'm probably going to post a PDF markup of the article, because I feel like it's worth putting out in the public sphere just how many places the article is hyperbolic.

Speaker 3:

So what you last said about the UC's discussion, right, I think, encapsulates a lot of the New York Times article. They took a little bit of data and drew conclusions that aligned with his point of view and then presented it as supported by research and everyone agreed upon it and that the opposing view. Like, they created straw man arguments and then used a little bit of specific data on a very small subset of schools to create this hyper hyperbolic argument that the SAT needs to return. And so my question becomes who does this benefit? Why is it out there? And so I don't love to be the conspiracy theorist, but if that's what you do, like, how do you not end up at that conclusion, Right? It just seemed so prejudicial, just like. Even if you look at the ostensible basis of his article, the opportunity inside paper. That paper says this only applies to the ID plus schools. The New York Times article is all colleges should go because look, this is great at old school like. They took 12 schools and made a fairly narrow conclusion. And the Lee and Hart article doesn't mention until the 37th paragraph that that research says it only applies to the select set of seven schools.

Speaker 3:

So he had an intent to create this illusion, right of agreement and new research by selecting very narrow research reports and consulting very narrow set of admissions people. He went to Georgetown, for God's sakes, georgetown, which was the last university in the country to want the SAT subject test. The only reason they stopped requiring it was because the test stopped being given. Georgetown, which requires all tests that ever a student has taken with the name SAT or ACT on it to be submitted at the time of admission. The angry college in the country that does this yeah, let's go consult Georgetown and their love affair with the SAT about whether the SAT should be required again. Right, it's a very strange thing. So to me that was the part, like everything here Authority of the New York Times to present a picture of college which isn't accurate, and that, to me, is that was the biggest problem that they used the weight of the New York Times to create an argument that only benefited the SAT and college board.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, the interesting thing is you know, if you compare admission at those institutions, that the ones that Keel mentioned and this called highly rejectives to pre and post pandemic, with test optional and test required when tests were required, they were making selections on a very narrow range of GPAs and a very narrow range of SAT scores. So in effect, neither one of them was going to be highly predictive of anything other than the fact that you knew these were very good students. Right, when you go to test optional, you're still presumably selecting on that very narrow range of GPA, but the band of SAT scores is going to widen out just because you don't know what the actual SAT score is and just statistical common sense is going to tell you that the SAT is then going to become a better predictor of someone's ability to succeed in college or at least to earn specific grades.

Speaker 2:

You know, the whole definition of success is not a fuzzy slope, a slippery slope and a fuzzy definition that we need to avoid too. So it makes sense, but it still doesn't suggest that students who have lower test scores are incapable of doing the work at those institutions. It just means they might have a 3.65 instead of a 3.71, which in the whole scheme things doesn't really mean much.

Speaker 1:

No, that's right. And that's what makes me laugh about whenever folks bring up the University of California. Look, the University of California is plenty of flaws, plenty of issues, but the number of applicants that are applying to UC schools, particularly from California, I mean it's exactly what you mentioned, john. I mean these are, you know, some of the top students in their high schools. They have great GPAs and they're going to succeed. Whether or not they got a perfect SAT score or you know a 20 point difference, they're going to succeed in the University of California. So, at least for this university system, that's not the answer. The answer is capacity. How do you increase capacity? How do you create more room for these learners? Not, how do you find more and better ways to say no to students and their families?

Speaker 1:

And you mentioned in your opening comments this whole issue about how the College Board orchestrates some of these campaigns. It reminds me of when we were having this discussion at the University of California again, you know people leave this out. There was a huge campaign to get K-12 superintendents out to talk about the value of the SAT and it was orchestrated and you know this was their strategy is to get into the K-12 system and make them make the case why this is important to their institutions. And I still find superintendents in California who still say, you know, we need to bring it back, because you know what about my kids who are going to schools outside of California? You know, am I handicapping them? And I think it's just such an interesting campaign and an interesting argument. It doesn't serve the learner, it serves somebody else's bottom line. I suppose I mean that's a really to me that that's an interest, that's an important point.

Speaker 3:

Right is to recognize, if you listen to the marketing of these tests, it's no longer about any educational value, right, it's about ranking and sorting. And you know, granted, university of California is selective because the population of California is large, so. So University of California isn't really in the business of practicing things like the Harvard's of the World War II. Let's just rank and sort for the sake of ranking and sorting, right. So? But it's what it's interesting, that no one is arguing I can, this will find the students who will fail out. I am fully in support of the test that is used to find the students who, despite support of the institution, will fail. Find me that test. I'm fully in support of it. But nobody's arguing that they're quibbling about us.

Speaker 3:

3.6 versus a 3.8. I'll tell you now, I didn't graduate with 3.8, anything, I've been just fine. The majority of people probably didn't graduate with 3.6 or 3.8. What? What's the meaningful distinction of those things? I also worked part-time my entire college career. But the affordability question, I think, becomes way more important in the New York Times piece, and a lot of the conversation about college admissions avoids the conversations that are really more important about graduation. How do I get to graduation if I have to work full time? Right, that's probably going to impact my GPA more than an SAT I took in 11th grade.

Speaker 2:

That's right and and the point that you made about the College Board sort of doing marketing. He's putting his marketing tentacles out into the state, legislators and teachers and districts and whatnot. It's not dissimilar from pharmaceutical companies starting it to advertise to people about drugs that they make right. Obviously, the best person to make a decision about whether you need a prescription drug or not is your doctor, in consultation with you and your specific health situation. Similarly, the best people to make decisions about the validity of the SAT are not superintendents or teachers or parents, but rather people who actually know something about educational measurement, the effect on students, who are people who are able to calculate the overall costs, not just the benefit but the cost and the detriments to society and to our educational process. It really should be making that decision, but the college board, in its wisdom, its marketing savvy, knows that if you create marketing pressure from the outside Going in, they tend to get better results. So it's not surprising they do that Well.

Speaker 1:

What's interesting to me particularly when I heard from superintendents and superintendents who I've known for a long time I consider them friends, they do great work I would bring up that inherent in the arguments that you're making is the fact that they're saying that we shouldn't trust their teachers, that we need a test because we shouldn't trust the grades, and I'm thinking how can you make that argument? I mean you talk to us about all day long, about how great the education is, is getting, how improved your high school education is, how improved your college readiness is, but you're still going to argue that we still shouldn't trust everything that you do and that we should use the standardized test. So I think that's Contrary to what we're trying to accomplish in K-12 education, contrary to the great work that faculty do Every day and contrary to the work that students do every day. This been a lot of talk lately. I know it was in David's piece and other pieces About great inflation and how that is increasing and this argument that now the chat GPT is here.

Speaker 1:

You know that's why we need to bring back the SAT. John, I mean you, you work in admissions. You've got, you're seeing lots of applications. You're hearing from your team. Do you see much of that concern Brewing up, particularly since Oregon State is test optional? Is there a concern about great inflation? Or chat GPT, creating essays for for your applicants?

Speaker 2:

Well, yes, I suspect there is some consternation about chat, gpt and essays.

Speaker 2:

But you know, people said the exact same thing about Google when it started coming out that it's going to ruin everything and people weren't going to be able to think for themselves anymore.

Speaker 2:

And I guess I haven't seen that Other than maybe in the New York Times.

Speaker 2:

But but the whole issue of great inflation is really a straw man For a lot of reasons, not the least of which is Assumption inherent in the panic over great inflation Is that the sole purpose of our high school system, our post, our secondary system in America Is to be a sorter for the Ivy Leagues, right, right, that's why, and so let's just leave everybody else out of the equation.

Speaker 2:

The second thing is, given the strong correlation between Test scores and high school grade point in high school performance, when you see Us the test score, the top range of the test scores, inflating, you would expect that that means students are achieving more and learning more, and thus grade should be inflated, because grades are not constrained by a belcher, like a norman standardized test should be. If everybody learns everything and gets the outcome of the class right, everybody should be able to get an, a Unlike of the SAT, where it's Mathematically impossible for everybody to score 1600, 1600, and so, so that you know the equation or the equating of those two measures as things that we should be sort of separately but equally concerned about is really problematic on its face right, right keel.

Speaker 1:

How do you answer those concerns when, when you're, when you're picking up on them In the field, and given that you're looking, you know, across the map in the country, seeing what's going on in different places Great inflation makes me laugh, right.

Speaker 3:

So let's let's start with the trust thing. So one right, we need tests to combat great inflation. Because we don't trust, because some students have been able to fool six to eight teachers a year into giving them undeserved grades, and this is going to stop when they get to college. So they'll be highly successful in college anyway. Maybe those are the same schools who are let's all the great inflation that has been reported for decades in the iv leagues, right? So I'm not sure it's an actual problem, right from that point of view. There's also the point of view of Perhaps not great inflation, it's a lack of deflation. I remember when grades were curved so they forced certain students to get a C.

Speaker 3:

And they've forced certain students to get these. Well, now that society has stopped doing that, maybe it's just a correction, right? So I'm not sure it was actually great inflation there. Let's offer. Great inflation might be caused by an expansion of AP courses, right? So college board is causing the great inflation?

Speaker 1:

Who does? Who does Exactly?

Speaker 3:

So let's cause the great inflation and then propose the solution to great inflation. Are other products, right? So the whole great inflation narrative to me is straight. Now I I think that it also needs to be reframed. It's gpa inflation that they're crying about, which, okay, that may be a concern, except how many colleges recalculate GPAs. So the GPA that college board has isn't necessarily the GPA that the college is using. Correction, right. And then also, I would I tend to wonder If we were discussing that students are learning less. Okay, let's have that discussion if that is true. But to simply say the reported GPAs are higher, without discussion what's actually being learned, is not a meaningful conversation. So I struggle to care about the people who cry great inflation. We need to test, because they don't touch on any of those things that I've brought up. That's right, that's interesting.

Speaker 1:

You know, what I hear baked into some of these arguments is the whole other conversations that are being had around wokeness in college and university campuses, how this is a result of that, how this is a result of the push for diversity on college campuses, the whole arguments that were made around the horrible day that are Some of our former Ivy presidents had in front of Congress. So it's, it's all getting baked in as if the only reason that college and universities are rethinking their admissions is because Of a push from the far left. So it's just interesting how this all gets baked in. You know, john, your University is on the left coast here. What have been the conversations there? How are people feeling about Going test optional in the state of Oregon? Are you getting much pushback?

Speaker 2:

So they can. Very conservative part of the state where a lot of people want to join IEA Idaho is east of the Cascades and it's about the eastern three quarters of the state. But when you drive through that part of the country you realize it's very sparsely populated. So the vast majority of our students come from west of the Cascades, where we are, and that includes Portland, for instance, and Eugene and Corvallis and Salem and several of the larger cities. And so, yeah, I think it's fair to say that Corvallis and Oregon are more progressive in liberal states overall. I would say that's reflected in our student body as well. But you know, someone once asked me are you Oregon State Subaru or Oregon State pickup truck?

Speaker 2:

right, because we do serve all members of the state and you know there's no political test for you to be admitted here. Certainly, but we don't get any. I haven't received a single comment from anybody that I can recall about going test optional or problems with going test optional or how. Somehow it's a response to wokeism or anything along those lines. It's been the sluice. I could imagine I went through or actively sent it by a vote of 70 to one. So yeah, not an issue here at all.

Speaker 1:

Achille, how do you think about this argument, this political argument that has popped up in the country, about why colleges and universities have gone test blind or test optional? What do you make of it?

Speaker 3:

I find. So I think that the political environment is being reflected at the institutional level, right at the higher level, the polarization that's happening, the creation of strawman arguments and demonization of anything that somebody chooses to say that they don't like. And it's often coming from the right, where they pick a thing, mischaracterize it and then attack it. Right, which was a problem in the Leonhardt article. That was essentially what he did and he didn't. Even worse, on the podcast where he's arguing things like higher ed wants to stop everyone from ever looking at or saying the word SAT. Like no one's ever made these arguments you're claiming to argue against. No one ever said the SAT test thing, right, although we may have said it, test nothing of real value. So he hyperbalizes contrary arguments in order to argue against them.

Speaker 3:

I think that's happening on college campuses. Right, if you choose the example of the Ivy League, the places that attract a ton of applications and almost forced to, because of the volume of applications, select among highly qualified students by a variety of reasons beyond academics. If you take those as your example and say this is what college is doing, then you're misrepresenting over 95% of colleges. Right, and that makes no sense to me. Right, because that also means you're misrepresenting over 95% of college going students, right? So the New York Times is known for catering to that particular audience who is hyper obsessed with not just the Ivy League, with Harvard in particular. I looked at two years of headlines. 42% of them touched on Harvard. 75% of them mentioned Harvard or Columbia. That's it. No other colleges exist except for Harvard or Columbia, and so they're making arguments about college based on Harvard and Columbia, right? So that's the problem is the polarization and then the hyper focus on these two places driving conversations about higher ed. It's just not true.

Speaker 1:

Right. For me, it's never been necessarily about wokeness or however you want to define that. It's been about waste, fraud and abuse. We're wasting a lot of resources. Families are wasting a lot of resources to take a test that really doesn't say all that much about whether or not your son or daughter is going to succeed in college. Fraud there's lots of fraud happening. We've seen clear examples of that people paying high profile consultants to help their student pass the SAT and do very well on it.

Speaker 3:

And let me also point out, none of them failed out.

Speaker 1:

None of them who?

Speaker 3:

cheated their way in failed out.

Speaker 1:

Right, right. And there's a whole issue of abuse. How college and universities have abused the test made people think that it is a test that shows merit when in fact we were using it to sort to act as a funnel, because we couldn't either get enough state support to open it up more seats or, you know, our university decided that we are going to keep it very rejected, very small. So for all those reasons, I've always felt that why are we doing this? Why are we creating this narrative that just waste a lot of money, creates a system of abuse and invites fraud. So that sounds like a pretty conservative argument to me.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. So even I have said it's if he didn't have a GPA, the SAT would be a reasonable proxy for you to make admissions decisions Right. If you didn't have high school transcript, you could do a pretty good job of admissions or just the SAT. It is the question of the added value and when you think about it from a conceptual level, we have close to 40,000 high schools in this country. Every year, about 3 million students graduate from those high schools. They're taught by hundreds of thousands of teachers on a completely non standardized curriculum. But someone quasi for profit, not for profit company in New York City has created one test that tells you what a good student they are not.

Speaker 2:

And if you, if you can say that with a straight face and believe it, then we really do have an education problem in this country, because it defies a logic. Anybody could could think that that makes any sense in any universe. It just doesn't to me.

Speaker 3:

Right. It gets worse to me Because, when I think about it, they're saying that the four hour paper SAT is the same as the two hour digital SAT, is the same as the ACT, despite them having different question types, different content, different scoring system, different score scales. But all we have to do is statistically adjust them and all things are equal. So perhaps these tests aren't measuring educational learning, they're measuring some proxy of that. Which do we really need?

Speaker 1:

that I think, at the end of the day, that's. That's the issue. This is not an argument per se about the quality of a test. It is. Why do we need it and why do we create an entire industry around it that just supports an industry that just creates barriers for learners of all stripes, whether black, white, brown? If you're low income, you're low income, and this is this is the challenge that I see. So, akhil, you've you hear a lot about test blind, test optional, college universities across the country. Based on what you're seeing across the country, has the sky fallen since they went test blind or test optional? What do you see in the data that you're looking at?

Speaker 3:

I think no students have graduated from college since 2020, when colleges went test optional.

Speaker 3:

I'm fairly sure that the country now has. You know, all these formal college kids who are drowning in the streets. Yeah, as far as I can tell, there's been not a whole lot of change in retention graduation in any of the metrics that we care about. Kidding aside, I think one of the things that are gonna be important, as Because it still is a little early, right, it's only two well, was 24, so we're getting right towards the data of perhaps that first cohort, right, mm-hmm? Right, it's important to also note. The effects of the pandemic are important to consider. So if you're talking about graduation rates from somebody who started college online and spent their first year and a half online and what their retention rate was, what the graduation rate was, and you don't try to factor in financial impact of the pandemic, then that's a false metric, right? That's a like again. To me it's just like trying to use test scores from 11th grade to predict Job placement ten years out.

Speaker 3:

Mm-hmm a ridiculous notion, assuming that nothing that happened in between mattered, right. So I think that we have to account for all of those things. A small dip in any metric of success in A school that went test optional is irrelevant. Mm-hmm, you're in the midst of a pandemic and political upheaval. Yeah, things will probably fall off.

Speaker 1:

No, that's right. Have you seen an uptick in the number of snowflakes that we're graduating?

Speaker 2:

Global warming, so all the snowflake should melt away, unless you don't believe in global warming, right?

Speaker 3:

For what?

Speaker 2:

it's worth our. Our retention rates have increased every year since we went test optional. Our diversity has increased every year since we went test optional. Um we see right. Nothing but good results so far. In the last year, in the fall of 2023, about 15% of our Enrolling students submitted tests for consideration in the application process with UC and you know, the public universities in Oregon and Washington sort of Leading the way and leading the charge here.

Speaker 2:

The SAT I wouldn't say it's irrelevant on the West Coast, but it's just not a thing. The West Coast is always having slightly chiller vibe to the East Coast and I think it's just. It's just Sinking in here quicker than it does anyplace else.

Speaker 1:

That's right.

Speaker 1:

University of California keeps coming along. Number of applications keep increasing. Uh, berkeley and UCLA are doing just fine. Ucla in particular is has the most diverse anybody it's ever had, and and just doing great things. So you know, the world didn't end. The university systems are doing quite well.

Speaker 1:

But but you're right, john, I think the argument tends to flow From those rejected colleges, from the IV, iv plus places where you know we're having this conversation because of a small percentage of colleges, universities. We're having this conversation because of a small percentage of alum and and students across this country. It's just frustrating that, you know, we're continue to talk about the, the 1% of institutions, rather than the great work that's happening at the other 99% of institutions that are Doing just fine and finding more and better ways to support Americans of all backgrounds as they come into our colleges and universities. As we begin to wrap up Akil, let me ask you what?

Speaker 1:

What should people If? If you're talking to folks on the street and they're asking you akil, how should I respond to all of this? You know how do I respond to the parents I'm running into at the pta who are asking these questions. You know, why aren't my students taking the s at, or why aren't you Requiring the s at at our colleges and universities? How would you respond to an everyday parent or Person who just cares about higher education?

Speaker 3:

My first response is typically that test optional. The movement across the country to make test optional at Most institutions has probably put testing in its proper place. It's on the same level as the the service trip to Peru, you know as, whether you were president of the yearbook club, whether you chose to take AP history or not, right, there are lots of optional things in the admissions process. This test being put on the same level as your curriculum and four years of grades was insane to begin with. Right, and so removing it from that level of importance makes sense.

Speaker 3:

The other thing that I think is a huge issue that Leonhardt does is he pretends that test optional means that testing can't be submitted ever. Right, right, and that's not what it means. It means if you're good at it, you love it, if you think your test score is the best thing since sliced bread, then please send it Right. There are only a few places like University of California said no, we're not looking at it, oh Right, but they're not going to penalize you if you send it, you love it. Sending right, that's right. So I think it's important to recognize that this doesn't restrict anyone from participating in testing if that's their thing.

Speaker 3:

If you have a good test score, go ahead and send it. If you don't, then guess what? You don't have to play the game. It also allows families more control over the whole process by deciding Are you going to participate in the test prep racket A racket which I participated in for 30 years, right?

Speaker 3:

So are you like and that's my last conversation the last three years have started with Are you sure you want to participate in taking the test and pay me for tutoring? Right, because I think that that's an important choice for families to make upfront Right now. They get to opt out of that, or they get to delay it and say, hey, let's see how the test goes and then I'll make the decision down the road.

Speaker 3:

So a lot of consultants who claim to have the magic card in the test prep racket, consultants who claim to have the magic key to getting into highly rejected places, are upset Because it's taken away, one of the things that they can point to as look, this is the secret sauce, this is the magic I have, this is the product I can sell you that will get you in. So I think that right families need to recognize there is several Industries, billion dollar industries, built around selling tests, mm-hmm, but you don't have to participate anymore, and I think that's important agreed.

Speaker 1:

John, I know that you are always being asked questions, given advice. How would you respond to? You know somebody off-street who's asking the questions. How should, how should I think about this going forward and what should I say to people about the SAT and the ACT?

Speaker 2:

I would say Look at all the information available. Make your own choice. It's a still a free country and they make chocolate and vanilla for a reason.

Speaker 2:

If you'd like to test, or you think they're valuable or they're helpful, go ahead and take them. I have no objection to people making that individual choice Right for themselves and I have no objection to mit or georgetown or stanford or whoever might do it, going back to requiring the SAT. It doesn't affect me in the least. So it's a thing that exists. I don't like it, but I certainly wouldn't say that everyone should not like it. Some people might Do what you want to do. If you're asking my advice, I think it's a waste of time and effort and I think the societal obsession with the 15 or 20 colleges Is not productive, not helpful, and it certainly doesn't contribute to solving the equity problem we have in this country.

Speaker 1:

All right, well on. On that note, john and Akio, thanks for coming back on the podcast. You know, I sort of hope that we we would have moved on from our last episode, but here we are. It just means that there are still a lot of people really nervous that this test might go away. So thanks for the work that you do, thanks for your advocacy, thanks for always Looking at your email or picking up the phone and and talking to people about your experiences Around high-stakes standardized testing. So thanks for being with me on the rent.

Speaker 3:

Great to see you.

Speaker 1:

Thank you All right. Thanks for joining us everybody. I hope you enjoyed my conversation with John Bogan stett and Akio bellow. I really appreciate their leadership and their willingness to come back on the rant, and thank you all for joining us here on the rant. If you're watching us on this youtube channel, hit subscribe, continue to follow us. Or if you're following us on your favorite podcast platform, I continue to tune in and we will be back soon with another great episode. Thanks for joining us everybody. Take care.

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Debating Grade Inflation and Test Optional
Debate on Test-Optional Policies in Education