news Sports Opinions arts variety interact Wildcat On-Line QuickNav

Editorial: SATs a poor judge of students' futures

It's the one Saturday morning every high school student dreads.

They prepare for months, expecting the most intellectually strenuous questions and the proctor to be Satan himself.

Some parents spend hundreds of dollars on testing aid services, hoping and praying that their children will really "increase their score by 100 points."

And despite the students' career choices, people will ask them for years: "What did you get on your SATs?"

Shame and disdain await those who don't top 1,000. Harvard admissions officials gag if they see applications with scores below 1,300.

The trouble with SATs however, is not the stress, parental pressure or constant queries. Actually, there are several problems with using the test to judge America's youth.

Some students are just plain lousy at taking standardized tests. The bubbles become a blur, the questions are designed to confuse people and studies have shown that the system is culturally biased.

But the main problem: strong students who strive for good grades and participate in multiple high school extracurricular activities can have their futures ruined by a pointless exam.

It's the fact that colleges and universities - including the University of Arizona - continue to use the test as a criteria for college admissions.

In the University of California system, for example, SATs factor directly into a student's chances. If the score is too low, their application is automatically placed in the circular file.

It would be refreshing to see the University of Arizona take a stand, to see UA President Peter Likins declare that SATs are dated relics of yesteryear and will not be factored into the university's admissions process.

It'll never happen, mainly because it would only add to the UA's reputation of accepting anybody and everybody.

But Kendal Washington White, associate director of UA minority student services, acknowledged that standardized tests do not measure a student's abilities.

White said universities should look to perseverance and determination if admissions officials need to decipher a student's chance at success.

John Taylor, dean of the College of Education, agreed, saying universities could lose exemplary students only because their SAT scores are below average.

What a sad waste that is. The education system in this country is forcing some of the great minds of the 21st century into community colleges and menial professions.

White and Taylor are absolutely right.

We judge people on a number, not potential. Universities don't interview students to gauge their verbal abilities. They instead look to S.A.T. scores and applications filled with fake, preposterous answers.

And why must we put such faith in this test - an exam that educators have denounced for years? One would think that after a system is criticized by educators and laypeople hundreds of times, it would be fixed or abolished.

Too bad that another Bill Gates could be excluded from receiving a college education because our "leaders" refuse to take action.