Ivy Coach is featured today on the pages of “The Daily Pennsylvanian,” the newspaper of the University of Pennsylvania. In an article by Sophia Leporte entitled “Penn endorses campaign to prioritize kindness in college applicants,” we are quoting as raising a skeptical eyebrow at the suggestion of the Harvard Graduate School of Education “Turning the Tide” report that testing be deemphasized in highly selective college admissions. One big argument made in the report against testing is that it is inherently unequal. And there is surely some truth to that. Students whose parents can afford fantastic ACT or SAT tutoring have a significant leg up on students whose parents cannot afford such services.
But let us not forget one thing, which Brian of our firm points out in “The Daily Pennsylvanian” piece: “The report also recommends a lower emphasis on testing. But Brian Taylor, director of the college counseling practice Ivy Coach, is skeptical of this idea. ‘They emphasize that they want to deemphasize tests,’ Taylor said. ‘That sounds nice, but actually the ACTs and SATs were created so that you can create equity between students from underprivileged and privileged backgrounds. They’re all taking the same test, no matter what school they come from, so that they can have a baseline measurement.’ [Dean of Admissions Eric] Furda also acknowledges that the testing recommendation is not likely to be put into practice, especially at Penn.” Dean Furda is right. Penn — or any of the Ivies — are not going test-optional anytime soon. Or ever.
The SAT and ACT, while surely far from perfect, were in fact created as a means to create equity among college applicants.
Are there significant flaws with the ACT and SAT? Yes. But how else can a student from Mississippi be gauged against a student from South Korea? How else can a student from a prep school that feeds tons of students into Ivy League colleges annually be gauged against a student whose school rarely places students into Ivy League schools? Like it or not, in some ways, the SAT and ACT — and all testing for that matter — creates a baseline for measurement. And without baselines for measurement, the highly selective college admissions process would be no fairer than now. Indeed we’d argue that it’d be even less fair.
Oh and, by the way, we do recognize the irony that Ivy Coach has given more press to the “Turning the Tide” report since its publication than has any news publication.