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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    SAT scores offer incomplete picture of college readiness

    The SAT: Also known as the place where your college dreams went to die. Those who struggled through that booklet of confusing questions and “comprehensive” nonsense understand. Remember the score that reminded you that you weren’t going to your dream school? In 2012, more students than ever faced the same realization.

    The recent SAT report revealed that more than half of all SAT takers did not meet the SAT College and Career Readiness Benchmark score of 1550 out of 2400.

    According to College Board, students who achieve that mark have a 65 percent likelihood of earning a B- average or higher during their freshman year at a university. These students are also expected to have higher retention rates throughout their four years at a university.

    Only 43 percent of 2012 SAT takers scored a 1550 or higher. The United States education system is failing because less than half of kids who want to go to college are prepared to do so, said College Board President Gaston Caperton.

    Are students these days truly unprepared for college? Some are. But is the SAT an accurate and complete assessment of an individual’s ability to succeed in college in the first place? Absolutely not.

    Although College Board acknowledges that high school grades and SAT scores combined are a better indicator of college success than just SAT scores, College Board continues to say “the SAT is consistently shown to be a fair and valid predictor of college success for all students, regardless of gender, race or socio-economic status.”

    The National Center for Fair and Open Testing, known as FairTest, expressed doubts as to the SAT’s objectivity, as it fails to measure a student’s ability to think deeply and creatively.

    College Board claims “the SAT also measures how well students can apply their knowledge, a factor that is critical to college and career success.” But, as FairTest points out, the test also forces students to make sense of material and questions they are not familiar with.

    Dr. Amy C. Kimme Hea, director of the UA Writing Program, said she believes that incoming college freshmen are prepared for college. She teaches classes like English 101, advanced writing, business writing 307 and also classes in the graduate level of rhetoric and composition.

    Kimme Hea said she believes that students from all ends of the spectrum can and will succeed in higher education. The English department uses a placement matrix to determine which version of freshman English students will take. Although most place into English 101, other classes employ in-class studio writing for students whose writing skills are not as developed. However, Kimme Hea also argues that writing is more than just a “skill.” It is a way of reaching ideas, understanding the purposes of writing and learning how to communicate with different audiences.

    In order to better prepare high school students for college, Kimme Hea suggests there should be more conversation between college teachers and high school teachers.

    “I think the best way of approaching any gaps is for high school students and English teachers is to communicate,” she said.

    The English department has already taken steps toward increased collaboration with a service in the UA Writing Program that includes resources for high school teachers.

    SAT scores are not always a valid predictor of college success. Even students who scored belowthe College Board’s benchmark aren’t doomed to low grades and low retention rates. Students with a strong work ethic can easily surpass petty predictions of their success in higher education.

    — Hollie Dowdle is a journalism junior. She can be reached at or on Twitter via @WildcatOpinions.

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