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Bloomberg comes out against the SAT!... 'What's holding American students back? The SAT... (from Bloomberg Business Week)

[Substance Editor's Note: During his three terms as mayor of New York, billionaire Michael Bloomberg did as much as any powerful individual in the USA to entrench the reign of testing that has now been completely discredited through Diane Ravitch's book "Reign of Error" and hundreds of local expose. And so it was on October 3, 2013 that when Bloomberg renounced the keystone of America's testing nonsense -- the SAT -- his decision should have been big news. But for some reason it hasn't been. Yet in the magazine now called "Bloomberg Business Week," Michael Bloomberg's own narrative is saying that the SAT (along with the ACT) is part of what is undermining American education. The sub-head to the story is: "The SAT is: (a) Elitist (b) Unfair (c) Out of Date (d) All of the Above." The graphic selects "All of the Above" and then the story tells why. Below is that story, just another encounter with reality during the opening months of the 2013 - 2014 school year, The Year of The Resistance].

BLOOMBERG BUSINESS WEEK ARTICLE ON THE SAT BELOW HERE:

Soon-to-be former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg even went so far as to appoint a buddy from the publishing industry (the one activists nicknamed "Creepy Cathy" Black) to head the city's schools in order to maintain the fiction that private sector executives could do the job better than professional educators. The Black appointment (which became a media debacle) took place while he was on his rampage of privatization, school closings, and charter attacks on the city's real public schools. Now his own "Bloomberg Business Week" magazine is reporting that the whole standardized test scam is -- well, beginning with the SAT and ACT, it's a scam. University of Wyoming President Robert Sternberg was stupid in elementary school. IQ tests said so. Knowing his scores, his teachers in the 1950s expected him to perform badly, and he agreeably lived down to their expectations. In fourth grade a teacher named Virginia Alexa saw something special in him and conveyed her high expectations. Almost overnight he became an A student. He went on to earn a bachelors degree from Yale University and a doctorate in psychology from Stanford, and later served as president of the American Psychological Association. Not so stupid after all. My entire future trajectory changed as a result of just one teacher, Sternberg writes in a 2010 book, College Admissions for the 21st Century.

He worries about stupid students who dont have a Virginia Alexa looking out for them. Its not only IQ tests that defeat students, he says. Its also the SAT and ACT, the college-admissions tests that he says arecontrary to their developers assertionsbasically IQ tests in disguise. Sternberg says he thinks college applicants should also be asked to demonstrate their creativity, practical intelligence, and even wisdom, qualities which are in shorter supply than cleverness. If you look at why this country is so screwed up, he says, its not because the people running it have low SATs.

The U.S. rode to economic supremacy with the worlds highest share of young college grads, but now its percentage of graduates at the typical age of graduation is behind those of Australia, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Ireland, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, the Slovak Republic, Sweden, and the U.K., the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development says.

Meanwhile, Americans who dont go to college lack the skills they need for middle-class jobs as plumbers, welders, electricians, and health workers. The skills gap in America has nearly reached a crisis point, Jorge Ramirez, president of the Chicago Federation of Labor, told Bloomberg Businessweek earlier this year.

The SAT and its rival, the ACT, are part of the problem. Designed to ferret out hidden talent, the tests have become, for some students at least, barriers to higher education. Scores are highly correlated with family income; Harvard law professor Lani Guinier calls the SAT a wealth test. Type SAT into Amazon.com (AMZN), and youll have to scroll past more than 200 test-prep volumes before you get to one book thats a history or critique of the test. Because the SAT and ACT are now thought of as yardsticks of ability, students who do poorly on them are markedor mark themselvesas failures. Overreliance on the SAT and ACT threatens to make Americas institutions of higher education even more elitist, adding to income inequality and harming U.S. competitiveness. The irony is that these were the very ills the tests were designed to combat.

Since the earliest days of the republic, there have been two schools of thought about the merits of sorting students, as recounted in Nicholas Lemanns 1999 book The Big Test: The Secret History of the American Meritocracy. Thomas Jefferson, who believed in a natural aristocracy, said that in Virginia all white boys and girls should get a free public education from ages 6 to 8, after which twenty of the best geniusesboys onlywill be raked from the rubbish annually and be instructed, at the public expense.

New Englander Henry Adams was less disdainful of the rubbish. He said Jefferson's natural aristocracy was no better than regular old aristocracy: "I would trust one as soon as the other with unlimited power."

Jefferson's side, the sorters, won. The SAT was launched in 1926 as a variant of an intelligence test used in World War to place soldiers and sailors. Harvard adopted it in 1934. The University of California long resisted using standardized tests but in 1968 -- swamped by more qualified applications than it could handle -- began requiring applicants to submit SAT scores as a way to screen out lower achievers. By this past academic year almost 1.7 million students took the SAT, and about 1.8 million took the faster growing ACT.

Lately, the influence of the tests has generated a backlash Admissions officers at about 850 four-year colleges now make standardized tests optional for some or all of their applicants, according to FairTest, a nonprofit watchdog. A certain amount of self-interest is at work: If weak students don't submit scores, then average reported scores go up and their schools ascend in the annual U.S. News and World Report college rankings. To be less cynical, the tests do stigmatize low scorers and distract people "from what they really need to do, which is mastering academic subjects in their high schools," says Wake Forest University sociologist Joseph Soares, whose school went SAT-optional in 2008.

Jay Rosner, executive director of the Princeton Review Foundation, once analyzed rarely disclosed item level data from old SATs and found a troubling pattern. The College Board drops questions if they tend to be answered correctly by students who otherwise do well on the test of if they ten to be answered correctly by students who otherwise do poorly. That seems like an admirable attempt to control quality, but it reinforces that status quo: Questions that white and Asian males dont do particularly well on are systematically shorn from the tests.

The College Board the non profit consortium of colleges, high schools, and other organizations that creates the SAT has repeatedly jiggered the test to respond to critics, most obviously in 2005, when it added a writing section that boosted the highest possible score to 2400 from 1600. Huge disparities remain. Asians score the highest on the test, and their average rose this past academic year even as the scores of all other groups fell.

The College Boards president, David Coleman, is a member of the educational elite with a strong do-gooder streak. As a student at Yale he started a program for students to tutor low-income pupils at New Havens Hillhouse High School. Coleman and his team are completing a major revision of SAT to be unveiled in January 2014 and launched in the spring of 2015. He wants the test to propel students toward deeper learning of real things. The test will be based on what students study in school and not shrouded in mystery, he says. That means fewer abstruse vocabulary words (like abstruse) and essays that are based on documents so human graders can evaluate the correcness of their writers arguments, not just their style. It is not different in a flashy, strobe-light way, Coleman says. I hope it will be greeted almost with a sense of relief.

Coleman is taking a step in the right direction, but the SAT and ACT are still fundamentally about sorting by smarts. Imagine if hospitals evaluated incoming patients the way colleges evaluate applicants: Only the healthiest cases would be admitted. Thanks in part to the pernicious influence of published influenced of published college rankings, schools have an incentive to entice more students to apply simply in order to reject them. For the good of a country thats losing its lead in the global race for knowledge, it would be more productive to expand opportunities for learning than to monkey with the tests that parcel out existing slots. Increased government funding of postsecondary education is one way to open the bottleneck and reduce the importance of standardized tests. Massive open online courses MOOCs are a more exciting answer. A MOOC is all about the knowledge, not the credentials. Which is the way it should be, right?

Sternberg, the formerly stupid first grader, wound up running the University of Wyoming this fall after academic postings at Yale, Tufts, and Okalhoma State. At all three schools his research showed that measuring students creativity and practicality could predict their college success better than plain SAT scores could. The message: Real life is messy. Youre not given five answers to choose from. And America shouldnt depend on something resemble an IQ test to rake geniuses from the rubbish.

New Englander Henry Adams was less disdainful of the rubbish. He said Jeffersons natural aristocracy was no better than regular old aristocracy: I would trust one as soon as the other with unlimited power.

Jeffersons side, the sorters, won. The SAT was launched in 1926 as a variant of an intelligence test used in World War I to place soldiers and sailors. Harvard adopted it in 1934. The University of California long resisted using standardized tests but in 1968swamped by more qualified applications than it could handlebegan requiring applicants to submit SAT scores as a way to screen out lower achievers. By this past academic year almost 1.7 million students took the SAT, and about 1.8 million took the faster-growing ACT.

Lately the influence of the tests has generated a backlash. Admissions officers at about 850 four-year colleges now make standardized tests optional for some or all of their applicants, according to FairTest, a nonprofit watchdog. A certain amount of self-interest is at work: If weak students dont submit scores, then average reported scores go up and their schools ascend in the annual U.S. News college ranking. To be less cynical, the tests do stigmatize low scorers and distract people from what they really need to do, which is mastering academic subjects in their high school, says Wake Forest University sociologist Joseph Soares, whose school went SAT-optional in 2008.



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