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Replacing the SATs in admissions–what comes next?

By Geoff Irvine
March 16th, 2016

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How a ubiquitous portable, cloud-based ePortfolio-like solution begun in high school could help make college admissions more inclusive.

Over the past few months, much has been discussed regarding the moves by colleges and universities to re-examine the weight and value of SAT and ACT scores as they relate to admissions. Inclusiveness in standardized testing has always been a problem—the movie Stand And Deliver addresses this.

More than 35 years ago, the U.S. panicked when SAT scores seemed to significantly drop. Studies revealed that, to a large degree, this could be explained by demographic changes—shifts in the racial and socio-economic constituency of U.S. high schools. Put another way, it seemed most likely that students who were not middle class and Caucasian had appeared in greater and greater numbers to take a test ill-suited to these shifts.

This was, of course, a very delicate topic. In the absence of a definitive but only probable cause (lack of inclusiveness), the SAT tests were altered to significantly reduce their emphasis on reading and comprehension; as a result, test scores shot up 30-50 percent. In 1995, the test was controversially re-centered (the mean was adjusted back to 500) leading to charges of further “dumbing-down” the SATs.

Today, standardized tests are being once again closely examined and testing companies are moving to make exams even more inclusive. This is largely due to institutions recognizing that they might be missing out on good students who do not test as well as their peers.

Evidence of Experience

One solution to this ongoing issue is the early introduction of ePortfolios to collect evidence of experience related to outcomes that matter to higher education success: leadership, persistence, teamwork, unsupervised work, et cetera. Though high schools have provided inclusive opportunities to help develop these skills for eons, they haven’t tracked them with a systematic approach that an ePortfolio can offer.

And while It’s easy to acquire software, making it successful is another story.

(Next page: The key to ePortfolio and admissions inclusivity success)


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