For those of our readers who happen to reside in New York City and care about the brouhaha surrounding the Specialized High School Admission Test, well, you might get a good laugh from reading a letter to the editor in The New York Times. In the letter, David Golub of Mineola, New York writes, “Concerns have been raised about minority students’ not being aware of the test or having equal access to test preparation materials. There are simple ways to address these issues: Make test preparation materials available free of charge to all students. Ensure that teachers or administrators at all public schools in New York City inform their students of the test and where they can obtain prep materials with ample time to study. In an age where elite college admissions has come to be determined as much by factors like race, gender, legacy status and athletics as it is by academic merit, the city’s specialized high schools remain one of the few places where raw talent is still valued.”
The Argument that Making SHSAT Prep Materials Freely Available Will Create Parity
We had to read Mr Golub’s letter twice just to see if we read it right. A major argument against standardized testing, including the SAT, ACT, SAT Subject Tests, AP Tests, and more, is that these tests favor the privileged. After all, it’s the privileged students whose parents can afford to subsidize expert tutoring. And yet Mr. Golub, in his concise letter to the editor, seems to propose a solution to this entire predicament: “make test preparation materials available free of charge to all students” and let’s not forget “ensure that teachers or administrators at all public schools in New York City inform their students of the test and where they can obtain prep materials with ample time to study.”
The Argument that Making SHSAT Prep Materials Freely Available Will Create Parity is Half-Baked
But of course! Why didn’t just about everyone think of that? If test preparation materials were made available to all students — for the Specialized High School Admission Test and any other standardized test — the test would be fair, right? No! Who is Mr. Golub kidding? Does he not realize that expert tutoring for the SHSAT and just about every other standardized test involves more than simply making prep materials available for free? Does he not realize that there are disparities in results on standardized tests (including for the SHSAT) based on race and socioeconomic class? It seems Mr. Golub has — rather comically — attempted to simplify the issue in a manner akin to suggesting that climate change can be averted if we simply stopped driving cars and flying planes.
We are all for ideas that can create parity in the world of standardized testing. But let’s make sure these ideas aren’t half-baked before they’re published in The New York Times. Do our readers agree? Disagree? Let us know your thoughts by posting a Comment below. We look forward to hearing from you!
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