SAT Matching American Education Trends By “Dumbing Down”

Significant changes are coming to the SAT college admissions exam that will be effective in 2024. The College Board announced that the SAT would be completely digital and cut from three hours to two. Reading comprehension passages are being shortened, and calculators will be allowed for the math questions.

The changes are allegedly needed to address COVID and a lack of “equity” SAT. In recent years, claims that the test is prejudicial against some racial and socioeconomic groups have led many colleges to stop using SAT scores in admission decisions. It now appears that the producers of the test are hoping that making the test much easier will preserve its use in at least some schools.

Unfortunately, as any competent teacher can attest to, bringing down the standards of the SAT will only make it even less helpful as a tool for evaluating the likelihood that students can succeed in college. Over the decades, year after year of falling scores and performance gaps have led to gradual reductions in the rigor of the test. The natural progression of these changes has inevitably downgraded the SAT into just another exercise in filling out forms.

Degrading standardized tests usually involves the dumbing down to the SAT combined with increasingly obscure and complex formulas with multipliers and variables that claim to help measure student expectations.

The SAT now appears to be abandoning even a fig leaf of objectivity. Since scores will inevitably go up and gaps between top students and poor students will narrow, college admissions officials may feel comfortable using the test for a while longer.

Of course, all that manipulating the SAT does is hide the truth that American education is sadly falling off a cliff. As students learn less and less, carefully manicured “data” will show that they are doing well, and their public high schools should be rewarded with ever-increasing funding and administrative positions. The quest for “equity” will lead only to more mediocrity and the stifling of excellence and independent thinking.

Suppose parents hope to break the current trend toward universally poor learning. In that case, they must reassert local control over their children’s education and fight for the right to choose the school that best matches their expectations.