This is a fascinating examination of standardized testing by a college president and testament to importance of authentic assessments.
Clearly, we are in the midst of change in education. Leon calls for “..not minor so called improvements to the SAT, but an entirely new generation of testing instruments that utilize modern technology not only to measure the performance of our students but also teach them. ”
It’s not often that we hear University and College presidents speak out. But considering Bard’s history, I’m not surprised that they are taking a stand on this. Originally founded as St. Stephens in 1860, Bard College has often taken a path less traveled in education.
Originally posted on TIME:
The blunt fact is that the SAT has never been a good predictor of academic achievement in college. High school grades adjusted to account for the curriculum and academic programs in the high school from which a student graduates are. The essential mechanism of the SAT, the multiple choice test question, is a bizarre relic of long outdated twentieth century social scientific assumptions and strategies. As every adult recognizes, knowing something or how to do something in real life is never defined by being able to choose a “right” answer from a set of possible answers (some of them intentionally misleading) put forward by faceless test designers who are rarely eminent experts. No scientist, engineer, writer, psychologist, artist, or physician—and certainly no scholar, and therefore no serious university faculty member—pursues his or her vocation by getting right answers from a set of prescribed alternatives that trivialize complexity and ambiguity.
And why do we remain addicted to the College Board’s near monopoly on tests? Why do they have an undue influence on college placement? These tests actually violate the basic justification for tests. First, despite the changes, these tests remain divorced from what is taught in high school and what ought to be taught in high school. Second, the test taker never really finds out whether he or she got any answer right or wrong and why. No baseball coach would train a team by accumulating an aggregate comparative numerical score of errors and well executed plays by each player, rating them, and then send them the results weeks later. When an error is committed it is immediately noted; the reasons are explained and the coach, at a moment in time close to the event, seeks to train the player how not to do it again.