Greetings from Seattle, where the NACAC Conference (National Association for College Admissions Counseling) is just winding down. Yesterday, Harvard’s Dean of Admission, Bill Fitzsimmons, who led a 21-member commission in a year-long study on the use of the SAT and ACT in college admissions, announced their overwhelming conclusion: these tests — as well as preparation for them — are here to stay!
The tests have great predictability and give clarity to an application; however, the abuses that have become inherent in their use must be addressed. Although the Commission looks forward to future testing based more on curriculum, the members agree that colleges need to review their testing requirements, that they should stop using score cutoffs to determine scholarships, and that they should account for inequities among applicants when it comes to test scores. They further recommended that the National Merit Scholarship Corporation stop using cutoff PSAT scores to determine National Merit awards and that U.S. News & World Report stop relying on SAT scores for their rankings, thus inaccurately imputing an institution’s quality to its average SAT scores.
The Commission called for further research, including the value of test preparation and the effective uses and abuses of standardized test scores.