Hampshire President Wingenbach On Standardized Testing and Inequality

“Recent moves by Harvard, Yale, Brown and others to reinstate a standardized testing requirement for admissions may help them identify a few more low-income students who can succeed there. But until elite colleges address the deeply flawed way they define ‘excellence,’ the policy reversal will do little to meaningfully expand opportunity. Moreover, it begs the real question: Why does every viable measure of student performance favor the rich? What we measure tells us what we value. Might it be that when we say we value excellence, we really mean we value wealth?

“That the SAT primarily measures family wealth is incontrovertible. Even the College Board’s own data confirms that scores closely track parental income. So why do the universities think that by reinstating the requirement it will help combat inequality? Because, they now admit, all their other measures are even worse; every metric, from GPA to letters of recommendation to extracurricular activities, advantages the most privileged. Claims that test requirements benefit lower-income students are part of a misguided mindset equating equity with marginal increases in economic diversity.”

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