SAT does not measure meritocracy

Now that fewer and fewer colleges require the SAT for admission, defenders of meritocracy are appalled (“Can the Meritocracy Survive Without the SAT?” The New York Times, Apr. 29).  I believe strongly in the importance of meritocracy, but I hasten to point out that the SAT is the wrong instrument to measure it.

The No. 1 goal of the SAT is to allow students to be ranked.  If the test were loaded up with items that indeed measured what students learned in class through hard work, then I would support it.  But test designers know that they must engineer score spread so that test takers can be compared.  They do so by deliberately including items that reflect what students bring to class rather than what they learn in class.

That’s hardly a defensible argument for its use.

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