OK, coming down off my high horse a bit, I will admit that the SAT I (and not SAT II, there is a distinct difference) is supposed to be a logic and mental ability test, and that it is not entirely what it claims to be. If it were I would have a much harder time coaching better scores. The verbal portion relies very heavily on the vocabulary. I can help teach vocabulary. I cannot teach entire patterns of thinking from the start. So obviously it is somewhat a knowledge test.
I also realize the effects of this discrepancy in what is said and what is done. When I taught in Compton, CA (home of such societal stars as NWA, etc), I had two fourth graders tested for the gifted program. They did not make it, even the one that would sometimes have the work done before I got through making sure all the kids understood the directions.
Being trapped in a rat hole neighborhood like that, there was no way they were going to get the chance to use their abilities to the full, if all they were going to be tested on amounted to their current knowledge base, and not their ability to learn. That’s what’s really important. Treyvon, part scourge of the classroom from boredom, part star student, had far and away the best ability to learn in the room. But not enough knowledge to make it “gifted.”
Prattling on, what really sucked in that school was the enforcement of an idea that had spread throughout the state, which was that “tracking,” or assigning classes based on ability, was racist and counterproductive.
Almost nothing could have been less productive than the system that was in use. If we had taken the whole grade and divided it up into ability classes, we could have made some progress, but no, I had pre-K ability through 5th grade ability, and was expected to teach 6 grade levels at once, to kids whose families many times regarded school as a place to take the kids off their hands and feed them.
Sorry for the rant.
I do appreciate the problem. But if anyone has any better ideas for say, Stanford, to use, let’s have them. Or should they admit everyone, regardless of their knowledge base, and have half the entering class flunk?
There are many reasons why kids don’t do well on these, and some of them just aren’t fair at all. They’re getting the shaft, no two ways about it. But as a university president, with a budget that is only covering giving a good education to the ones that are arriving with the ability to graduate, what do you propose to do different?
The problem seems to be with the schools, and dare I say it (you bet I dare, after meeting some of the parents I have), the parents.
Thanks for listening. We welcome relplies.