Saturday, March 15, 2014

Veruca Salt: Gatekeeper of Public Education

Inspired by a column by Valerie Strauss in today's Washington Post, Ten Clueless Things People Say to Teachers and Comebacks Teachers Can Throw Back at Them, I posted the following question on my Facebook page:

"In retrospect, was your SAT score the ultimate predictor of your growth, potential and success?"

In terms of full disclosure the sole scientific claim of the SAT is its capacity to predict first year grades. That's it.
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Talk about a focused business model. ETS and the College Board (the overindulged, wealthy, and manipulative gatekeepers of education) wipe their hands clean of anything other than predicting the first year of college success. 

The checks dry up once the initial tests are taken. When there are no more checks to gobble up like golden tickets and chocolate bars, the gatekeepers of education are awfully ambivalent.

Quite honestly, I can't recall my specific SAT score. Mostly, I can't remember it because I can remember wanting to forget it. I remember feeling awful about it. 

That and I'm 45 and it was one score on one test almost 30 years ago.

Claude Steele, professor of social psychology at Stanford University, writes, [the] "SAT is not going to get you very far with predicting who's going to do well in college. And certainly not far with regards to who is going to do well in society or contribute to society. It's just not that good a tool and that's the first thing to realize about it."

Yet, America remains the most hyper-focused nation regarding standardized tests. No other country elevates the value of standardized tests as much as this one--even moving so far as to use standardized scores to measure my growth, potential, and success as a teacher.

We face just how ill education has become--don't teach a lifelong learner. Teach someone just so they can get to a first year of college.

Beyond that, my hands are clean?

This is the system we are embracing.


  1. DId you see this week's TIME magazine? There's a column by a college professor that soundly criticizes the SAT (both old and new) for not providing any value at all (other than an easy way for admissions offices to sort and reject students). Having just finished a week of our state standardized test, I am once again sickened by what we in schools are doing to our students in the name of accountability.

  2. You really have a clear, distinct voice in your writing. Very editorial. Veruca Salt. Great analogy.