Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Jennifer Karan, Executive Director, SAT Program at the College Board

Helping Students Be Seen in the College Admission Process
By: Jennifer Karan, Executive Director SAT Program at the College Board

As a former teacher, I know that educators are committed to democratizing the classroom experience – to ensuring equal opportunity for all students.  But with so many external and environmental influences leaving such a heavy mark on resources and instructional designit will likely be a long time before we are able to put all students on an equal footing toward a college education.

Until then, it is critical that college admission officers have a credible way to understand and navigate the differencesamong students from various backgrounds and academicprograms.

The SAT has a proven track record as a fair and valid predictor of first year college success for all students, regardless of gender, race, or socio-economic status. Since its creation in 1926, it has helped students provide evidence of their academic credentials in a manner that eliminates the inconsistencies across high school grading systems and what has become pervasive grade inflation.

The world may have experienced extraordinary change inthe 86 years since the first SAT was administered allowing students from all geographies and circumstances access to higher education’s hallowed hallways, but the benefits of the SAT have not.  Ensuring students are able to reliablydemonstrate their college-preparedness is essential to the admission process and helping students understand where they can achieve success.  

It’s not so easy to do that.

Decades’ worth of external research and research generated by the College Board shows that the SAT is an impartial and effective measure that validates college readiness. Whether a student went to a nationally recognized high school or – in recent years – the financially strapped local public school, SAT scores provide a national, standardized benchmark that neutralizes the risk of grade inflation and allows those who are prepared to stand out.

Students from all over the country submit their SAT scores each year when applying to college. In so doing, these students are providing admission staff with the most objective measure available, ensuring a fairer admissions process in which a hard-earned score is the differentiating factor, rather than a high-school zip code.

With all the inequalities that exist in education today, despite the best efforts and great intentions of dedicated teachers and administrators, it is encouraging to know that there are two million plus students who take the SAT each year—two million plus attempts at eradicating undeniabledisparities in education.

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