Testing Creates Yet Another Rift Between Rich and Poor
~ Amy Lignor
We laughed about it…hoping it was not real, I suppose. We watched headlines go by that talked about how to basically turn our children into their own type of Transformer robot, with iPads strapped to their baby chairs and screens stuck to the potty chair so they can pass the time on the one screen they will never break away from when they get older. Or, perhaps that’s the wrong thing to say; it is their cell they won’t break away from later.
We have spoken about the entire world going digital; how the blessings of technology have helped us so much. And…in some industries they very much have. In others, the world is torn apart, industrialization grows bigger, the air we breathe is more toxic, as well as the seas our marine life swim about in. You name it, there are debates on both sides no matter what the subject in 2014 may be.
Here, however, is yet another that needs to be brought to the forefront. Some were thrilled when cursive handwriting was to be pulled from schools because our kids ‘really didn’t need to learn it’. After all, they would be signing digitally for the rest of their lives anyway, so who needed to know how to actually write on paper? Heck…scrolls are out, right? Besides, we have those pictures of the forefathers together signing their names to deeds, resolutions, and that…hmmm…what was that thing again? Oh, yeah, the Constitution. So since we have pictures on the Internet, who needs to learn anything about actual handwriting? If one of your own children become President they can just print their name in bold lettering. Talk about a collector’s item one day.
Now the educational realm has decided to go one better. There are millions of articles across the Internet that promote and support this new action. They are screaming about the big changes coming to the SAT, and how wonderful that The College Board is now dropping the writing portion from the exam, bringing the highest total score back to 1600.
Not only that, but the Washington Post says that this will not be the only change coming to the test; they will be altering a great many things. They will no longer test a young adult’s knowledge of the fancy vocabulary that, of course, can simply be gotten from the Google dictionary if needed. Common words that are used in everyday life are the ones you should know. And there will be no quarter-point penalties for wrong answers, which means guessing is an available course.
The one thing The College Board finally seems to get is that there should be a way for everyone to take the SAT. Free test prep will be an option so that lower income students have just as much of a chance as the wealthy. This levels the playing field, so to speak. But what it really is, is the SAT wanting to bring back the students who have and are still scattering away from them and taking the ACT instead, because more colleges have made that test optional for admission.
The College Board states that with these changes they mean to make the test ‘more accessible, straightforward and grounded in what is taught in high school’. Let’s break this down…
SAT scores have been tethered to family income, apparently, but here’s the truth: Taking away the right to better oneself on a test, taking away the ability to write in cursive, or understand words more than two syllables long do NOT have any correlation to a person’s pocketbook. Your child’s intelligence should not be treated as a ‘dumbing down’ of society. Nowhere does it state that a lower income child is any less intelligent than one driving a Porsche around town. And saying that it is makes me – a definite lower income person – extremely angry.
What exactly does this all mean? I went through High School and College with grades that were not ‘won’ by bribing teachers because I was richer than my other classmates; I received good grades because I studied and learned what I needed to know in order to excel at something. Forgive me, but isn’t that still the point of school? Or, is it now just the fact that if you learn a computer, all is well? If that is the fact, computer terminology is usually longer than two syllables, so…?
Allowing students who have no money to take the test and have an even chance of getting into a good school just like higher income children, is great. But when you start taking things away, you are stating in a very quiet voice that lower income students could not possibly understand fancy vocab, or make up flashcards with definitions on them, or even write their own name in cursive.
Perhaps if everyone would just treat everyone else the same we’d all have the same chance in this world. (I know, silly isn’t it?) After all, those Founding Fathers of ours never assumed we could be a nation such as that, so what was I thinking?
Until Next Time,