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ACT/SAT reflects wealth not brains

Daniel Pomerantz, Staff Writer

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The ACT and SAT are far from perfect. These tests have been shown to be both culturally and statistically biased against African Americans and Hispanic Americans, and in favor of white Americans. This is because of clear racial-income gaps in America.

Our nation’s biggest problem is that family income has a direct correlation to test scores, and this is unbelievably unfair in the college admissions process.

Overall, whites tend to fall into higher income brackets which means they will be able to score higher on the ACT or SAT. Wealthy people appear more college ready than any other race because of their high ACT/SAT scores. Because they can afford private tutoring and expensive ACT/SAT classes, students can learn the important tips and tricks of the ACT/SAT. Consequently, students are more test-ready and score higher, especially in English categories.

In addition to extra tutoring benefits, high-income family students have privileges when it comes to course load. A Huffington Post report highlights multiple reasons for why low-income students might be performing worse on the ACT than their peers. For one, the report found that low-income students — defined as having a family income of $36,000 per year or below — were far less likely to have taken the recommended core curriculum prior to the exam. This is compared to wealthier students who are more likely to have taken these classes. (The recommended core curriculum consists of four years of English and three years of math, science and social studies.)

Susan Hill, principal, agrees. “I think it’s important that people at U. City continue to improve their ACT scores, but we also need a national dialogue about the ACT and the bias that comes with it.”

I can relate to Hill’s opinion, and I feel that ACT bias and unfairness should seriously be discussed in the government as well as by the people. Hill also doesn’t like how much pressure there is on these standardized tests.

“We need to examine this idea of high stakes testing for college admissions,” Hill said. “There are other studies that say GPA is a better predictor of college readiness, and one thing I hate about the ACT score is how they equate their ACT score with their intelligence.”

And she is absolutely right. ACT scores should never equal someone’s intelligence, but colleges care so much about our scores, minorities and lower income students are left in the dust, as the privileged kids soar on these tests.

Despite the unfairness of the ACT and SAT, these tests are still necessary for college admissions. The higher your score, the more likely you are to get into that “dream college.”
Katy-Jane Johnson, senior counselor, is an advocate for strong study habits, and has many tips to help students receive their highest potential scores.

“Having prior knowledge to subjects are very important, but the ACT is all about being familiar with the test,” Johnson said.

Johnson encourages students to use as many affordable resources as possible, such as the ACT.org questions of the day and a free online class.

“There is an online class through Kaplan Test Prep, that normally costs over $100, but U. City students get to sign up for free,” Johnson said.

If students take advantage of these opportunities, U. City ACT/SAT scores will soar. In addition, students should take the test multiple times, if they wish to improve their score. The school does this by giving three waivers on the ACT to every student. Since everyone now qualifies for free lunch, students no longer have to pay for the ACT. With inexpensive applications designed to help students succeed on standardized tests, U. City needs to utilize the tools we have, and cannot accept defeat.

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The school newspaper of University City High School
ACT/SAT reflects wealth not brains