The Real Test Question: Should Colleges Be Allowed to Require Standardized Test Scores for Admission?
From. Kit Finnerty. This is firefly's the original kid's debate show. Noble your host for today's episode on the future of standardized testing in the United States. Should colleges be forced to prohibit senators, testing scores from their admissions process, and what about state testing in elementary and junior high schools. Is there a better way? All this end more will be covered in today's episode. Welcome to the show. Some not sure if you guys heard the recent news, but all eight Ivy League schools, you sees Caltech Stanford Mit and many top colleges and many colleges in general and the United States aren't not requiring standardized test scores for the class of twenty, twenty one or incoming seniors in high school. According to. CNBC. In addition the University of California College System, which enrolls some two hundred, eighty, thousand college students. Each year plans to phase out the and sat in oncoming years, and this is not a small decision of course I mean. The University of California system is one of the largest college systems in the United States and their decision holds a lot of weight in determining what other schools will do in the future. So what is standardized testing? Well, senators tests are scientifically. And machine graded instruments administered to students and adults under controlled conditions to assess capabilities, including knowledge cognitive skills and abilities, and aptitude according to the US Department of Education. Essentially, it's supposed to put everyone on equal playing field and compare the relative performance of individual students or groups of students. So he may be asking what are some examples of standardized testing? While in high school, there is the sat and act which I mentioned before and two tests are run by College Board a nonprofit organization that is not related to the government. Today roughly two million students in the US take the sat each year according to CNBC. But there isn't just the sat and act and tests run by College Board. There is also state testing in every state and I'm sure many of you guys have experienced this basically where the national government gives jurisdiction to each state to manage their own state testing. So for example, in California, there's the s back and other states be other standardized tests and these are usually administered to elementary schoolers, junior high schoolers, and usually one or two of those tests in high school and those run by the government, not by College Board or by another private organization. There is also graduate school testing like the bar exam which students take or the G. Mats which business students take, but we won't get too much into those because today we going to be mostly focusing on state testing and Senate is testing in college admissions. So as I said, before most standardized tests were not administered this year in many systems, and this is basically causing everyone to rethink Senate is testing as a whole and find new ways to improve it. The four we begin this episode on standardized testing I actually have a few important announcements to make. So after this episode, we will be featuring a guest host on firefly's because I'll be moving into more of a management role in the company that manages this podcast kid. Finnity. I will still be involved with firefly's production and I truly enjoyed my time as a toast. I'm sure you guys will have a great time with the new host, the future debaters and I wish you all the best. You can sign up to be a host or debater on kid finnity dot com slash firefly's, and the link will be posted in the podcast description as always I encourage you to subscribe and share the podcast with your friends. Now, let's get into the debate. Joining me now are grace margin seventeen and Savannah Keller fifteen. Hey, guys doing. Good. How are you? Doing pretty well, well, no. No today, we're going to debate the future of standardized testing in this is something that hasn't been talked about a lot. Recently I'm with, you know even state testing being up not postponed but actually taken out of this year and you know the sat's Act's a lot of colleges are suspending the requirements for the incoming seniors actually this this year so. You guys have taken many standardized tests lifetime, and today we're GonNa go talk about some of the experiences and you guys views on in general. So, the first question I have for you guys is. Should the United States prohibit colleges from requiring Senate is test scores for admission, and this can really be simplified into should colleges be allowed to require a standardized test scores for admission grace I'll give you this question I. All right. Awesome. So when we're looking at standardized tests and why in the first place call is decide to require them it often comes from the idea. It's a test under pressure before all they perform under pressure and how they can understand an overall concept of different ideas and different subjects and different crumbs. But, at the end of the day, what really ends up happening is it puts certain students at a much lower disadvantage especially those of low income communities. Especially Sat's and AP tests in general, which are a form of standardized tests that are classified us. Really. Defeat the point of learning knowledge within schools and end up just teaching to a test and Focusing, on those curriculums rather than understanding different things and understanding new knowledge having basically for inquiry in the classroom, and then lastly, of course, senator has played law of stress on students as it is a one time situation which they're being tested on their bass knowledge of whether it's a year round courses, ABC's or essentially. Any PREPA they've done for sat's in or act's in English math and science. So grace at this point is saying that college should not be able to require standardized test scores for admission because they cost test Zaidi disadvantage lower income students and. Put too much attention on the test itself rather than traditional school learning or basically promote quote teaching to the test. For Act's. And SAT's students that have more money. If have more money might be able to take that test more times and they might be able to pay for test prep, which could allow them to perform better in the tests, and then you know exactly what the stress that's always comes up in any sort of test, right? So You have anything to a response agrees yeah. So in terms of the tests that you brought up and the test questions as soon as you register for an AP test board automatically gives you free test prep questions that you can go in answer whenever you have free time and I'm aware that not everybody has Internet connection at home of course. But if they're going to take the test, they must have Internet connection somewhere. So whether that be at school, they could take lunchtime and gone to the library or ask permission to use the computers during lunch or recess or whatever teachers clearly need to do better at preparing everybody for their tests. You're saying that there. There is a way for these students still to perform. Well, even if you know they're working a job or they have after school activities or they might not have that'd be harder for them to have access to Internet connection you're saying this. But it is definitely harder for them to succeed in these tests and then Savannah, you also wanted to bring in something about how if standardized test scores or Act's act. Act's sat's are taken out of the requirements. There might be an increased impact on GPA's right and increased weight on TV. So, if colleges were to completely. Take out the standardized tests in admissions. The GPA would be weighed much much heavier and it would put much more stress on students. Throughout the year. Yeah I actually have data on that. So a study using data from twelve thousand, five, hundred students from the education wanted to study of two thousand two researchers concluded that math teachers had a less positive perception of the academic abilities of Latino and black students compared to white students causing a point to reduction in GPA so. GPA also could be skewed. I mean, it's not just you know sat's and act's have a disproportional effect on minorities and disadvantaged communities, I mean. It's also GPA's COBB. Some sort of I don't think it's as pronounced. As standardized is testing, but there definitely is something to consider where GPA's. A accurate depiction of what the soon as knowledge Anything to respond so. The day that you stated about how especially people color within school districts may have a lower. GPA. A quarter reduction actually is extremely significant when it comes down to GPA's that inseparable apart like a four point four. It waited so much heavier than a four points you in. It's seen as such a huge difference. So was a really difficult situation to examine because. At the end the day, the biases of teachers that may be inherent bias within one smaller system. Same time when you have the sat and act system that as a whole that entire system is working against people of lower socioeconomic classes or magnified is everything definitely. I. Think when you're looking at the situation, GPA, this is a clear issue is clear problem that is present within the school district however. When you're looking at the entire system of the SAT act and pretty much any college board run course as a whole that's much more impacted system putting pressure on these students and causing less as whole. So you saying he's just one system that might have that problem in terms of GPA's but you know, GPA's might not necessarily just be skewed a because of teachers bias also might be skewed because some teachers just tend to give more points for certain assignment. You know that happens I'm sure you guys have had all at all had experiences with that where this teachers you know of this quote super easy and they give they'll give good grades right and so that I believe is something that goes. On in a nationwide you know and I also wanted to bring up something that you know standardized test scores are part of entire. They call it holistic process basically colleges to account plethora different factors you know in many call do take into account your socioeconomic status in that process they taking you know GPA's extracurriculars and all those things in sat's act's AP tests are just a certain portion of the whole entire process right Gracie you have anything down on. Sure. So especially, this year, this is an. This coming enrollment years going to be really interesting to see how. Standardized tests, impacts, admissions, because this is the first year that a very wide group of schools, the entire UC system, and also a lot of private colleges throughout the country are running on a optional Sat Act Semnan Optional Center next or system. So we don't really have the information as of right now but when a single test is tied to way down lower, someone's entire holistic average, I feel like this. Can become a little bit broader an issue because when you're writing about a college application if you have a smaller question that was about a struggle within your own certain school, you can talk about your struggle with a certain teacher and trying to find balance within the classroom because that's a reasonable explanation and they also have a place on the UC apps where you can write down any comments that you want to add about a certain grade certain class that you took or certain you didn't take. and. Then when you looking at the sat and Act Oh, however because everyone's taking it the exact same way and it's essentially a one test compared to every individual classroom in school environments different. You can't quite make the excuse that I've several about test anxiety or I was are disadvantaged because college or colleges as a whole or when look at everyone else has it exacts in disadvantage or everyone else within certain group has that same disadvantage. Basically what you're saying is GPA's easier chance to talk about those disadvantages whereas. Most colleges don't give you an area to talk about your disadvantage in the in the sat act. Colleges understand that every school's different every school teaches differently don't understand if there's a certain variation within a certain course at a school compared to another school. For example, one math classes in school might be wait a lot heavier than a math class at school and it's not a matter of how will it was just perform no matter of the teacher grading them however when the sat and act are all the same versions, the tests being administered it's a little bit different because it's not necessarily leniency it's how you perform to the test. Bring up apart and it's like you know teaching to the test as well. Right? But. At least be given a choice to include those is testing if it's Going to benefit the students they accept. So you know if you have like an MIT right and they're based on math and science shouldn't they at least be given the choice to? Administer to acquire like, for example, act scores. Which take into account which have a math and science section savannah you wanted to talk a little bit about that, right? So. I definitely think that though scored the colleges should be able to pick. If they want to require them. For example, a school such as juilliard, which is a performing arts school would have less used for academic information because most of their majors are of the arts whereas schools such as Harvard Oxford Have High Akademik Standards and discoursed need to be taken into consideration. So you know you're saying that some schools you know like an art school might not need to have ended is a test or they might have a different sort of await standardized tests. So maybe they won't require the standardized tests. Right. But some schools you know like Harvard or you know cal tech mit might need these scores so. We, talked about how they're definitely they're definitely is a problem with the standardized test scores in grace. You believe that standardized test scores because of those problems like this eventing students than the. Generated from the test, you believe that over all these colleges should not be lots of car the standardized tests at all for admission. And then and then Savannah daily should be given a choice in terms of you know like MIT or. They because they're more related to these tests that the students should be better prepared for these tests that they have a chance, and then you also mentioned how GPA's might possibly be skewed by by bias, and then also like you know teachers themselves, right we know that the sat's Senate testing aren't perfect right so you have a link any suggestions for how it could be improved or how we could sort of transition your grace. So something I also wanted to quickly bring up and touch on the immersed into a transitioning point for this is there are sat subject tests which cost less than the actual sat and our votes toward a certain group of students. Who wants to show their academic ability on those tests? So for example, if you have a student who is going to mit or Caltech or want to apply there, they can take a certain science subject test in mathematics, subject tests, and then from there, it showing their success in that area with an is putting the my disadvantage perhaps if they perform poorly on an English portion of the act or sat the act since the act has a science in mathematics portion. So overall if the generalized Senator Test was eliminated, you can fall back on subject tests or you can fall back on other sort of primary knowledge tests to show that they do have the. Same sort of. Understanding of the concepts while focusing more on what they are in tune to economically It's definitely a really good idea you know sat subject tests are technically still standardized tests, but they might not have make students go through the whole process of an sat act. It's just subject test which is going to be a lot shorter as well, and then there's also that the possibility where schools can make their own tests. So depending on what those schools are looking for, they could create their own tests than students you know depending on what school they want to apply for might not even have to take the sat act. Savannah do you have anything else to? Yeah. So in my opinion I, feel like it would be a fantastic idea to keep the scores in admissions but allow the colleges to be able to look at the actual test itself. For example, MIT as you said, mass in science are what they're about. But the test has maths science and so if they didn't do as well on English questions as they did on the math and science questions I, feel like the college should be able to look at that and say, Oh, they have what we're looking for instead of looking at the score as a whole, it should be able to look at the actual test. So. Yeah. That kind of is similar to a Greece's talking about what the subject is. Right. So Savannah in your case while you're suggesting is that everyone still going to be required to take the tests I feel like as I said earlier depending on what school it is, what the intended majors are. The cause should be able to. But I feel like everybody should take the test i. do also feel like the students should have a choice whether or not to submit their test scores into admissions. For example, if you're going to juilliard but you wanted to submit your high test score. It could just be used as an advantage. But not required part of your mission. What she's saying is looking at the question of the first one being should the US prohibit colleges from requiring standardized test versus requiring I think what she's trying to take on here's they shouldn't prohibit because the opportunity to take the test is greater than getting rid of it as a whole and still provide some students with vintages. Exactly. Walking a fine line however, because if you require in some ways I think it'll be also a very interesting development. Watch is application results are going to come out at the end of this next application term. Yeah. For because, there are going to be students this year who are going to optionally submit their sat or act scores may have strong sat scores or scores, and it comes down to the matter of there was no march sat. So the only students who could have taken this who are incoming seniors aren't they took the October November December sat. So these students more likely are students that. have. More of an opportunity to take tests multiple times. As, you wouldn't just take the test and be unprepared for the test often with the struggled walking into junior year with multiple AP classes and long summer projects where you might not have time necessarily to be indefinitely studying the sat or a C. T. when you're going in and taking that test as a practice in November or December that. Chose that these students took it because they're at a financial advantage to be able to take the test multiple times. So the man who were not able to take the test before to take it as a practice and we're planning on taking their one and only sat in March May. June etc This is putting those at a disadvantage because they don't have the score to provide us a boost their application as some other students may have, and that goes back to the of its disadvantage in lower socioeconomic students. The point you're making there with Even though that it could be useful at some times. It's still it's still leaves that lingering point there it is going to disadvantage these socioeconomic disadvantaged communities and so generalized testing isn't just you know sat's Act's AP test all these these tests for college write it also is they testing. You know you have these elementary schools elementary junior high, and then they're also in many states to actually is one year where high school students do have to actually participate in the state testing, which is different from those ricard for called admissions. So how is the debate different with state testing as opposed to act's and sat's and college required standardized test scores Savant. What's your take on? I feel like primary and secondary state testing or completely different tests than this enterprise test called US states has stained gauges, one's level of knowledge on state standards which are drastically different from those of undergraduate schools. You Know College admissions touch on Austin material that you were to learn from middle school until high school in in addition state testing is compared to the state standards for respective grades, which is much lower than not of universities and colleges. So you're saying you know it's it's more related to the government, right? You know of course, they have it's two completely different standards. There's really no comparison between them. Okay, they still are technically standardized tests. So in that regard is a comparison and especially during this time with both of these standardized test scores both in state testing and in college admission they're both being taken out or at least not being required in this case. So say testing as you're talking about is more related to the government and to stay itself rather whether you know college admission testing and standardized testing is more related to the private colleges race. He has something to say. So when working at the state, Senate is test themselves. There's a lot of political history behind their that overall still disadvantages a lot. Of Communities during Obama's presidency, his secretary of education believed that there needs to be a little more emphasis on standardized tests home, and because of that, they enlisted the es a which essentially mandated that the government would take control of standardized tests and mandate all states in order to help provide relief in the schools that have lower test averages in order to help bring them up to a higher national level of an giving equity situation. However, in two thousand seventeen, this was rolled back by the current administration, and now every state is in charge of their own jurisdiction. So tests in California, for example, having much different president than. Than, for example, maybe New York. Even Texas Arizona. Are Certain system that we have now is depending on how well the school does on state tests they get funding to the schools themselves but help still does have a law were performed so low that those schools can actually be shut down and those students can be or to another school, another school or another school district while there's is being mended to fix the education. And this puts students at a huge disadvantage based on the scores from the test itself swallows may have a sense of helping students be placed within colleges or have advantage in that sense. Overall, this does come back to the point of the entire standardized testing system. No matter where you look at it has inherent class biased rude within it. Okay. So you're bringing it back to the the issue with some areas you know might not have the same the learning capabilities as others, and this could completely take away funding from the area and you don't think that that's something that is right. You know. Yeah because especially, if those students get displaced from their area that could cause some taps, go larger distances to different schools, which overall which but a hindrance, especially lower socioeconomic areas and also increase class tensions within the classroom itself. Can overall perform a lower benefit a lesser benefited students because what is happening as if they have to travel farther for school disk and put them in a huge disadvantage to their own families but also to their education as a whole when their school in their school environments. So big difference about state testing and college admission. Senate's scores is that state testing is more evaluating the whole group I would say whereas always standardized testing isn't waiting independent each individual person. So in terms of that, there actually are a few more alternatives to state testing rather than college admission testing. So for example, I have an NPR article here and they mentioned that there are four possible alternatives for these state tests and one of. Them is sample sizing, which is basically taking a a certain portion of the school rather than having everyone do the test and get stressed out by the test, and then there's also they also mentioned that you have multiple measures. You know not necessarily standardized tests, but they have like emotional or social surveys and the game based questions and I'm just wondering what do you guys think about those possible solutions and India's have any other ideas. Savannah. I think that is a pretty good alternative if. Everybody decided that standardized tests were going to be taken out which I still don't feel like it's a very good idea. But I do feel like be could alternatives especially with the emotional part because if we're in a bad. In the students don't feel safe at school or anything like that, that also can greatly affect test scores and everything like that. So I. think that's a really good alternative only taking a few of the best scoring students that way can prevent what gray said with defunding all of that kind of stuff. And grace you have anything else to add. So with the smaller sample size as a whole, what this also helps you is relieve a little bit of the test apathy within the school itself. So also with different multiple measures of testing itself and taking the test based questions self away from state testing where you are learning to the test, and it's a or done tests on knowledge if you are able to incorporate more logic and were. Reasoning those tests where people can show off their different academic strengths and different learning strings. That's also where the tests will show more benefited the students because not everyone learns the same way and not one applies their skills. The same way some people think logically, some people think better straightforward. So as a whole, you can still see the understanding of suits come through while other students aren't disadvantage for not being able to understand a certain way. So you're saying, you know that some kids have the chance to demonstrate their abilities but that shouldn't disadvantage. The other kids don't perform as well on those are you know don't don't take away funding from those students schools, right so something else that I was thinking of when you're talking about that is that maybe these test because a big problem with these state tests is kids get really stressed out by this. And they feel out pressure and and I'm one of those kids whenever there's a state test I was auto. It'd be worried about it the night before and something else that is interesting. Is that maybe that maybe people or started the government could collect this data over time maybe not necessarily single test maybe it could be just like you know looking at you know some of your grades looking at some of. Other indicators like maybe something and it's maybe something more fun to write. So I was talking about a game based measure right? So maybe you don't have a test, but you have no logic game which and people don't administer as a test. It's more of like people maybe they don't call it test. So kids don't feel nervous or anything. It's kind of like a stealth stealth. You would call it guess have anything else did I do? Something I actually discovered last year when I transferred to homeschooling. Skull home schoolers do not need take state tests. We do need to register for tests and be there but honestly a lot of people I know just click random answers intimate the test because the the the state testing is completely political and it has everything to do with funding in my opinion nothing to do with kids knowledge. The definitely the testing of is big problem. There are some kids that just you know like you say just click through of answers bastion determine whether the school funding or not right exactly though you definitely also big problem with these state tests are I. Think our time is up. So thank you so much for coming on I won't repeat. Thank you. So let. For having us. What do you guys think of the debate? In general grace believes the US should prohibit all colleges from occurring standardized test scores because they disadvantage, Laura students promote teaching to the test and cause large amounts of stress. Well, Savannah believes that colleges should have the option to require a standardized test scores because they provide an academic factor in addition to GPA's and some schools would benefit from the extra academic information. As part of a possible solution, Greece also mentioned placing more emphasis on the sat subject tests. In addition, they both pointed out problems with state testing including unjustified school defunding and test apathy, and we explore possible solutions for state testing, including logic, based games, and simple sizing. Thanks so much to the debaters. Martin. Founder podcast Benjamin Wong to the audio editing for this episode, Talia? Rahm. I encourage you to check out these other podcasts get CEO which is hosted by Benjamin? Wall. In addition, it would really help us if he gave us a review on Apple podcasts or wherever you get your podcast as possible, and it would also help if you guys filled out a survey that will be posted soon on the. Website. Thanks. The views expressed in this episode, do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the firefly's podcast. Thanks again for listening and I hope you have a productive week.