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KJB

Unfair advantage on SAT?

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Since my daughter has just taken the SAT as a 7th grader, I have been pondering the fairness of the process.

 

In many schools throughout the US, middle school students with high enough test scores from other standardized tests are "invited" through "Talent Search" programs to take the SAT or ACT in middle school.

 

In reality, although I don't think most people are aware of this, any student can register through the college board to take the SAT without any special "invitation".

 

I found this Washington Post article interesting:

 

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/04/09/AR2009040904051.html

 

And in particular, this quote:

 

"We don't want young people to game the system," said Richard Shaw, dean of admissions at Stanford University. "What we want them to be is open and honest and transparent."

 

And Shaw said he worried that wealthy students who can afford test-preparation classes would get an unfair advantage. "If you start practicing and working with a consultant in the 10th grade, eventually you might get scores that are off the charts, but that's not something that low-income students will have access to," he said.

 

I have had this same thought over and over again. Many students take the SAT cold. They have no fancy preparation and no repeated testing experiences since middle school. These students are being compared with other students who have savvy parents guiding them to experiences and preparations that will pay off in their scores.

 

So, it really leads me to question how fair it is to allow multiple testing experiences. Doesn't this give already bright students an unfair advantage? And what about low income students or students with less savvy or less educated parents; how are they supposed to compete when some little Johnnys are super prepped and testing for the fourth time in as many years?

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This sort of preparation has always existed. The SAT, in particular, is biased toward the upper-class already. There has been *much* written about this. "Easy" questions involving analogies, for example, often contain references to golf, opera or wine, things that require cultural knowledge. Lower class students who do *better* than their upper-class counter-parts on hard questions score often lower on these "easy" questions. This is just one well-known example.

 

http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200311/mathews

 

http://markfranek.wordpress.com/2003/12/15/race-bias-on-sat/

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I think this is the type of disadvantage that could be overcome simply by spending time at the library with a (free) prep book. In fact, kids who are well-read will do better on most tests as well and again, books are available free.

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I think this is the type of disadvantage that could be overcome simply by spending time at the library with a (free) prep book. In fact, kids who are well-read will do better on most tests as well and again, books are available free.[/quote

 

 

Perhaps, but simply? Probably not for many of the disadvantaged we're talking about. Many don't have access to a library, and I'd imagine the libraries in lower income areas aren't very well equipped with multiple prep books. Some of that knowledge is acquired over a child's lifetime, and unfortunately there are too many kids who just don't have a chance at a level playing field. I think the inequalities start in pre-school and just seem to multiply; it's unfortunate no matter how you view it.

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good point Dot, "simply" was a poor choice of words. I suppose I meant "inexpensively" and "easily available". And in our area, the libraries in the lower income neighborhoods are quite a bit larger and better that some of the more affluent suburb branches, especially the children's sections (we drive into the "hood" to go to one!). I agree also that it needs to start young and that the benefits are exponential as the kids grow up year by year without these advantages. I'm just saying it's a great opportunity available to everyone, regardless of income, and it makes a big difference in the kids' success.

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As others have already said, library funding, parent support, a lifetime of reading... all of those make huge differences. Taking the SAT an extra time or two probably doesn't. For about $20 you can get a book of eight full length SAT practice tests straight from the College Board people and practice to your heart's content. It can make a difference, but it's not going to make up for a generally poor vocabulary or years of never having had a good math teacher.

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This sort of preparation has always existed. The SAT, in particular, is biased toward the upper-class already. There has been *much* written about this. "Easy" questions involving analogies, for example, often contain references to golf, opera or wine, things that require cultural knowledge. Lower class students who do *better* than their upper-class counter-parts on hard questions score often lower on these "easy" questions. This is just one well-known example.

 

http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200311/mathews

 

http://markfranek.wordpress.com/2003/12/15/race-bias-on-sat/

 

Yes, I've read this before. However, all of these kids would still benefit from repeated testing regardless of any inherent bias in the tests.

 

The more you test, the more familiar you are with the types of questions and the better you would then be able to prepare.

 

Interestingly, I think the biggest gap in ethnic groups today is between Asian Americans and other groups. I don't think Asians as a group are necessarily better versed in opera, golf, or wine than the general population.

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As others have already said, library funding, parent support, a lifetime of reading... all of those make huge differences. Taking the SAT an extra time or two probably doesn't. For about $20 you can get a book of eight full length SAT practice tests straight from the College Board people and practice to your heart's content. It can make a difference, but it's not going to make up for a generally poor vocabulary or years of never having had a good math teacher.

 

I think being groomed to take the test since seventh grade gives you a huge competitive advantage. I am not talking about being well educated in general, but rather being groomed to take this specific test. There are many tricks to test taking that give a student a tremendous advantage. Equally well educated or bright students can test dramatically differently if one kid is hip to the tricks relative to the other.

 

And of course anyone can take a practice test, but that's not the same as being targeted by Johns Hopkins or an equally prestigious university when you are 12 and being offered special opportunities, camps, and courses as well as opportunities to test before your "official" test taking opportunities as a junior or senior.

 

I know older kids can retest, but starting to prepare as a 12 year old isn't the same as retaking the test three months later.

 

I don't know if there's any way to level the playing field as far as scores are concerned, but the overt advantage (created by someone other than the family or intelligence or personal drive) of some students troubles me.

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I took the ISEE in the 8th grade, then the SAT in the 9th grade. I scored fairly well on both.

 

I went to 10th grade and then dropped out. I had my oldest in what would have been the 11th grade, getting my GED while I was pregnant.

 

That summer, I studied for the SAT again, using prep books from the library. I took the SAT again in what would have been my senior year and scored 170 points higher.

 

I was taking the city bus to the library in the 7th grade and then the 8th grade (in another city.) We moved after that, so I didn't have access to anything other than the school library until I got my license (and a job.) I read everything I could get my hands on (still do!)

 

I won't pretend that I was disadvantage as a child - my mother was poor, but my father's family is wealthy and educated. What I didn't have was any support at all for my education! There were no camps, courses, sports, music lessons, extracurriculars or anything else (so no fancy test prep.) I also didn't get to take the SAT as a 7th grader (though I could have with 99th percentile achievement test results.)

 

Having said all that - I would have done MUCH better on the SAT and in school if I would have had some of the advantages that others did. In my case (and many others I am sure), the problem was not being poor, but rather a total lack of care by my parents for my education. *That* is what hurt me more than anything else.

 

And *that* is on my "why I homeschool" list - to get my dc whatever they need or to help them figure out how to do it themselves. There are places out there that will help disadvantage students with various things, but they have to know they exist. Not only that, there has to be someone who cares enough to help them make it happen (and teach them to do it themselves.)

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THis is probably a whole 'nuther thread, but my time working with Princeton Review has lead me to believe the SAT should be used more judiciously as a college entrance exam--it should count for "way less," iow. Thank goodness more colleges are putting it into perspective.

I don't think very many students can't take it more than once--but the prep is out of reach for many more. Sitting with a test prep book is not the same as sitting in a test prep class.

Still, I agree with Renee that the investment of the parents really does make a huge difference.

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The new policy doesn't really change whether or not the test is fair. It just brings more money into the College Board.

 

Officials with the College Board, the New York-based nonprofit organization that administers the SAT, say taking the test more than twice generally doesn't raise scores.

 

If you started taking the SAT in 7th, the bigger variable would be what you learned in the intervening five years of course work - not in just test-taking skills.'

 

The "unfairness" of the SAT is that the longer, harder and more focused you prepare, the better you do. Well, the longer, harder and more focused you prepare for the Olympics, the better you do. The longer, harder and more focused you prepare for that job interview, the better you do. It would be unfair if any "Johnny come lately" could do as well as someone who had been working for years.

 

The unfairness lies in the school systems that don't have students "working for years" on academics, that don't even let kids know what opportunities exist, that don't allow kids to take college prep courses, that don't make them read real literature and do hard math, that don't "raise the bar" and have high expectations, and basically don't provide an education that will allow the students to do well on the test, with or without the prep books.

 

As long as those inequities in school systems exist, there will never be a test that is seen as "fair."

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My own opinion is that the less advantaged kids will benefit from multiple testings, by simply learning the way the test works. Someone else already said this, I believe.

 

My daughter took it cold, with just PSAT and me urging (her ignoring) her to do the question of the day from College Board. She tests very poorly, and was freaking out over the lock-down style of testing. She is not good in the early morning, putting it mildly, so was angry about that (it is what it is.) She said the PSAT was much, much harder than the actual text...and she did score a bit higher the second time.

 

My son, a senior now, wants to go to engineering schools, and needed as high a SAT as he could manage. He's a casual student, has about 3.6, but more rigorous couseload (IB and AP), tests easily, and did a good bit better than daughter. He stayed up late the night before taking it second time, and score went down a lot, so I made him take it a third time and he got about 50 points higher. A local teacher does a prep class that is pretty reasonably priced and I put him in a small group with two other students, they met 2-3 times. Amongst the kids, there is a "if you have to study for the SAT, you're an idiot" , "you can't really study for the SAT, you have to know it already" and these attitudes pervade the SOLs too. SO, prepping for the style of the test, seems to be the test for many, rather than cramming for it, from the kids' perspective, and I guess I agree.

 

I took the SAT almost 40 years ago, once, and remember half-sleeping thru it. I remember there being a lot of trick questions, which seemed dumb. Luckily, my mom did all the work to make me apply for a couple of good schools, I was totally clueless. I remember writing a couple of short essays, only. I could never have navigated the kind of app the kids have now.

 

Bottom line, I think retaking the test gets the kids so sick and bored with it, that any more than three times, is just repeating an exercise that they shut down on. Maybe my kids are not so motivated, though. I preach that they are more than a bunch of grades and scores, but it is hard to sruvive the college app process with your self-esteem in place.

 

I agree with what I think Renee is saying: general support for education is more important than individual preps and trying to study for so comprehensive a test. I also think that multiple testings would have to benefit the less advantaged, as it seems their "prep" would be taking the test each time. I think every kid should take the test two times, though, not just once, unless they score phenomenally well and/or get the score that will get them into the college they want. I have seen all kids I know score a bit better with each testing, so I don't agree that the test is best chosen to be taken only once. The expense is prohibitory for disadvantaged kids (plus getting off from work or getting transportation) so that makes them have an unfair disadvantage, to me, more than the references to cultural things in the questions.

 

 

Both these older kids of mine are in public school, if that makes a diff. They had a small amount of discussion before the PSAT, but no prep after that, and this is a very well thought of school system. Not sure if that is the norm or not. My homeschooler is not quite ready to worry about this.

 

Elder son said the brief prep class he took helped him, and he also said he would not have gone to one of the expensive classes.

 

LBS

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I just attended a workshop this weekend where one of the speakers was from the college board. Someone asked what test prep he would recommend and his reply was that there are lots of free materials available online through the college board. That there are free sample tests, and that you can log on and it will help you create a study plan of sample questions. He thought that there was enough free materials online without having to pay for extra classes or workbooks from other companies. Of course he wants you to use his companies stuff, but it is free and they wrote the test.

 

Now I know some will say not every disadvantaged student has a computer at home, but almost every public library and school system has computers where people can log onto the internet for free. It takes a little more effort, but it also takes effort for the middle class or affluent family to get their children to the classes they need or get the study materials they need. It takes effort no matter what.

 

I grew up in a lower to middle class area and had no educational counseling or help and I took the test cold and did terrible. I wish that my parents had known how to help and that my guidance counselor would have helped. I agree with others who stated that prep starts early, and knowledge is not only what comes from a test prep book, but from years of education and training.

 

Not to sound unsympathetic, but unfortunately, life's not fair and I don't know if there is a way to ever entirely level the playing field.

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There is overwhelming evidence that the real advantage is high socioeconomic status. This could be partially due to being able to take the test multiple times, or access to test prep classes, but then when you look at school district testing data for regular standardized testing, what you find is that the affluent districts have the higher scores, and in many cases, much higher, even though the educational quality in these districts isn't really that great. It is well known among those in the testing field that if you want a good public school education for your kids that you have to look at individual schools, talk to parents and teachers, and generally do a lot of research, but if you simply want to live in a district that claims high test scores, buy the house in the most expensive district you can afford.

 

There are a lot of things that are unfair about standardized tests.

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I agree with what I think Renee is saying: general support for education is more important than individual preps and trying to study for so comprehensive a test.

 

Yes, that is what I meant. My other point is that a highly motivated student could do a lot more than the baseline in their area. It may not mean that they can do what I did, but self-motivation is huge.

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If you started taking the SAT in 7th, the bigger variable would be what you learned in the intervening five years of course work - not in just test-taking skills.'

 

The "unfairness" of the SAT is that the longer, harder and more focused you prepare, the better you do. Well, the longer, harder and more focused you prepare for the Olympics, the better you do. The longer, harder and more focused you prepare for that job interview, the better you do. It would be unfair if any "Johnny come lately" could do as well as someone who had been working for years.

 

The unfairness lies in the school systems that don't have students "working for years" on academics, that don't even let kids know what opportunities exist, that don't allow kids to take college prep courses, that don't make them read real literature and do hard math, that don't "raise the bar" and have high expectations, and basically don't provide an education that will allow the students to do well on the test, with or without the prep books.

 

As long as those inequities in school systems exist, there will never be a test that is seen as "fair."

 

I agree.

 

I'd also add that it benefits children immensely if someone helps them realize the importance of learning and clears the way so they can study. A friend of mine has a very difficult time teaching the students in her poor high school not because of a lack of resources, but because the students don't value learning. Interestingly, I've seen the same attitude in a number of the well-to-do children in my son's school.

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And of course anyone can take a practice test, but that's not the same as being targeted by Johns Hopkins or an equally prestigious university when you are 12 and being offered special opportunities, camps, and courses as well as opportunities to test before your "official" test taking opportunities as a junior or senior.

Johns Hopkins doesn't do test prep. They do advanced courses in math, foreign language, science, writing and that sort of thing, but once you've tested that one time in 7th or 8th grade, you never test again.

 

I'm sure there's a benefit to all the opportunities from JHU or any other talent search, but it's not test prep.

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We are just past the 'cut off' for financial aid.

 

SAT scores are going to determine IF my middle dd will be attending college full time. Period. There are very few scholarships available that are NOT tied to this 'test'...

 

Looking at the scholarship opportunities listed at the university dd is considering -- it is just as frustrating to me to see that 90% of them are 'need based'--so students with LOWER test scores will end up with full tuition scholarships while we will be expected to shell out $20,000 per year.

 

If you take away the $20,000 from our sallary my dd WOULD qualify for financial aid!

 

I have even had financial aid counselors tell me 'it is too bad that your dd is not a minority--with her test scores she could have a full ride anywhere she wanted'.

 

Colleges/Universities know that the tests are skewed --but the scholarship opportunities are skewed more heavily in the other direction.

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Johns Hopkins doesn't do test prep. They do advanced courses in math, foreign language, science, writing and that sort of thing, but once you've tested that one time in 7th or 8th grade, you never test again.

 

I'm sure there's a benefit to all the opportunities from JHU or any other talent search, but it's not test prep.

 

It depends upon how you define test prep, I suppose.

 

It's not true that you never test again. Most (all?) of these kids will at a minimum test again in high school and many will go on to test again each year until high school.

 

However, the key thing I think is that big name universities "invite" kids to take the SAT who don't need an invitation.

 

*Any* student with *any* standardized test scores can take the test. However, only a few who already test well are "invited" and thus encouraged to test. The prestige of a big name university "inviting" you, makes it all the more likely a student will participate. I am wondering if it's good form/fair/ethical for big name schools to encourage repeat testing.

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First, let me clarify that my dc will take the tests more than once because it is part of the "system", and standardized tests aren't going to go away. I also understand that it is unfair to let your future rest on a test that you took if you were sick, etc.

 

But- and I'll get flamed here :001_smile:- I don't think students should be allowed to take the tests numerous times. There should be a limit, IMO.Are students allowed to take AP or Clep tests over and over again? In college do you get to take your finals over?? Why not ? The student who scored in the top percentile is competing for scholarships with students who took the test five times to improve their score? To me it proves nothing.

 

When I took the SAT/ACT, I don't think there were any prep classes or prep books.

 

But, I understand it is a profitable business.

 

We will take the tests more than once to improve scholarship chances because it is the hoop we must jump through.

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I so agree with this. Thankfully my son did score well, without anything but a test prep book from the bookstore. He took the PSAT twice (missed NMSF by one point) and the SAT twice. I needed the scholarship money for him. He is my oldest and there are more to put through college. He ended up going with enough scloarship money to pat for all his tuition and books for 4 years.

 

Next child does not test well. We wnt CC route with her. She made a 4.0 for her associates degree and got some money for the transfer scholarship, but not as much as if she were a minority or if we made less money.

 

The horrible thing is that the ones that get money based on minority and need need a much lower GPA to renew the aid than the others. I am so tired of dorms full of partying kids that are getting paid to party.

 

Case in point. My son had to maintain a 3.7 GPA, but the kids on ROTC schloarship had to have a 2.7 GPA and they get everything (including room and board) paid for. That's a huge difference in GPA if you ask me. And a lot of partying.

 

Linda

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Case in point. My son had to maintain a 3.7 GPA, but the kids on ROTC schloarship had to have a 2.7 GPA and they get everything (including room and board) paid for. That's a huge difference in GPA if you ask me. And a lot of partying.

 

Linda

 

 

I agree with much of what you've written, but I have to point out the the ROTC kids are committing years of their lives to service long after their college party days are over. ROTC scholarships are a different animal.

 

I would bet your son could easily get an ROTC scholarship and have the same lowered GPA requirement if he is willing to serve.

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It depends upon how you define test prep, I suppose.

 

It's not true that you never test again. Most (all?) of these kids will at a minimum test again in high school and many will go on to test again each year until high school.

I've never heard of that. Most often I hear kids actively discouraged from retaking after 8th grade. Before score choice it was because >9th grade scores would be reported when you applied to college, and now it's because even with score choice there are colleges that require full disclosure anyway -- and again the 9th grade scores will be reported.

 

Duke TIP is a huge thing here since we're so close to Duke, and still I don't hear of anyone retaking the SAT every year -- especially not in high school. And honestly, I'm all for every score being reported. If you really do take it every year then that should be on the record.

 

If you're defining JHU classes as test prep then I would argue that you'd have to open that up to a huge range of other things.

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Yes I know they are a different animal but they are only committing to 4 years. I still think that the GPA requirement should be higher. Since it is ROTC this is my tax money paying for their college and they should be serious about studying. So many times they are not. I saw it when I went to college and when he did.

 

Yes I know my son could have gotten one. I actually wanted him to consider the Air Force Academy. He chose not to.

 

I have a lot of respect for the services. My dad served for 27 years(and my brother for 20) . He was in before I was born and retired during my senior year in college, so even if I did not serve and my husband does not, I know the dedication it requires. I just think the reqirement for a free college education shoud require some commitment to study during the actual college years.

 

Linda

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As it is with all things, being better educated and better off financially gives one's children some advantages. So what? That isn't anything new in human history. What is new that there is some movement now between classes. We have changed more towards a meritocracy. You can't level the paying field because God didn't give us all the same talents and smarts. We can only do the best with what we have. Keep on keeping on and don't worry about the advantages others have. It will keep you blood pressure lower.

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I agree, and I believe it is a widely held belief by higher institutions at this time, that standardized testing favors those in higher socio-economic brackets. Isn't that why some higher level institutions are now making score submissions otional (Wake Forest, for example)?

 

I have even had financial aid counselors tell me 'it is too bad that your dd is not a minority--with her test scores she could have a full ride anywhere she wanted'.

 

I'm curious...what does this mean exactly? This is not to start a debate about minority/non minority college acceptance/scholarship opportunities. I'm genuinely curious. We are a minority family, just over the cutoff for financial aid as well. DD has high test scores. Are you saying financial aid counselors are honestly telling you that there are lower requirements for minorities as far as full-ride scholarships are concerned, regardless of income? Please clarify, if you will.

Thanks.

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Just so I don't misunderstand you, are you saying that kids take the SAT in 7th grade *only* and don't repeat the test as juniors/seniors?

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Just so I don't misunderstand you, are you saying that kids take the SAT in 7th grade *only* and don't repeat the test as juniors/seniors?

They take the SAT in 7th or 8th grade and then not again until they're juniors/seniors and taking it with everyone else. So their only difference when it counts is having taken it once before, at least 3 years earlier.

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Yes there are. My son had a friend who could have gotten full ride to several colleges because he is minority (based on his PSAT scores). He scored several points below my son who just missed NMSF status. But because he was a minority (or half) he was considered a finalist for that minority. It had nothing to do with income because the boy's dad work with my husband and I know his approximate income. It had nothing to do with family size because they have half the number of children we do. The only thing determining it was his minority status.

 

Linda

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They take the SAT in 7th or 8th grade and then not again until they're juniors/seniors and taking it with everyone else. So their only difference when it counts is having taken it once before, at least 3 years earlier.

 

OK, we may not be on the same page, but at least we're in the same book.:D

 

I have been reading about kids that retake the test a number of times. Especially in high school when they are dissatisfied with their first scores and/or need a specific score for a scholarship or admittance to a university. But also, kids are retaking it yearly just for practice since the score choice means their scores aren't reported.

 

Very few colleges require full disclosure and even those that do don't care if there are several scores. The WP article I linked to above suggests that colleges ignore the lower scores, regardless of how many, and only pay attention to the higher.

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My two eldest, now in their mid-20s, were both "invited" (recruited? lol) to test for Northwestern's Talent Program. Both scored very well (I believe above 600 in both verbal and math in sixth grade) with no test prep whatsoever. At the time, I had not heard anything about these types of programs. We opted not to enroll them anyway because classes were too pricey for us and time-consuming. Despite not going, both kids managed to get into terrific colleges with full-ride scholarships to boot. Later, neither took a test prep class in high school (again, too expensive for us back then), but we did have each sit at home and take a practice test.

 

My daughter went to Northwestern, btw, and taught a few of the engineering classes for the Saturday Enrichment Program. She had to design the classes herself, so we came here -- the WTM boards -- to get ideas!

 

So, if your child doesn't score well, don't sweat it. There are so many fabulous sources available nowadays. My youngest's favorite is Alcumus which is free. Can't beat that!

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Yes I know they are a different animal but they are only committing to 4 years. I still think that the GPA requirement should be higher. Since it is ROTC this is my tax money paying for their college and they should be serious about studying. So many times they are not. I saw it when I went to college and when he did.

 

Yes I know my son could have gotten one. I actually wanted him to consider the Air Force Academy. He chose not to.

 

I have a lot of respect for the services. My dad served for 27 years(and my brother for 20) . He was in before I was born and retired during my senior year in college, so even if I did not serve and my husband does not, I know the dedication it requires. I just think the reqirement for a free college education shoud require some commitment to study during the actual college years.

 

Linda

 

But a 2.7 is not a bad GPA, especially for a non-academic scholarship. That is a B- average. It means they can get a couple of Cs and not lose their scholarship. They also have to take extra classes and do PT in the early mornings. This is not "free" money.

 

Academic scholarships require a higher GPA, but have no service requirements to pay them back and generally few extra requirements other than grades. they are getting a free college education.

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My two eldest, now in their mid-20s, were both "invited" (recruited? lol) to test for Northwestern's Talent Program. Both scored very well (I believe above 600 in both verbal and math in sixth grade) with no test prep whatsoever. At the time, I had not heard anything about these types of programs. We opted not to enroll them anyway because classes were too pricey for us and time-consuming. Despite not going, both kids managed to get into terrific colleges with full-ride scholarships to boot. Later, neither took a test prep class in high school (again, too expensive for us back then), but we did have each sit at home and take a practice test.

 

My daughter went to Northwestern, btw, and taught a few of the engineering classes for the Saturday Enrichment Program. She had to design the classes herself, so we came here -- the WTM boards -- to get ideas!

 

So, if your child doesn't score well, don't sweat it. There are so many fabulous sources available nowadays. My youngest's favorite is Alcumus which is free. Can't beat that!

 

Your children did really well for sixth graders! Many kids invited to test end up testing highly, but of course not all.

 

I'm not especially concerned about my daughter's scores. If she does well we'll be thrilled for her, but if she doesn't she still has benefited from the early experience. She has the standardized test scores to support her ability to score well if she had a good day. She will test again in high school regardless because I'm sure her score will go up.

 

I am pondering the fairness of repeated testing vs a one test only (with possible exceptions made for someone who is ill test day) mentality.

 

From a fairness point of view, the college board can't control a lot of factors. Race, economics, educational opportunity, maturity of a student, etc. are all factors that will influence scores. But, they *can* control who can test and I can't see how a first time test taker can compete with someone who has taken the test repeatedly since they were 12.

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Is it fair? Probably not, but life isn't fair. I am the first college graduate in my family. I went to an inner city school. When I entered college I didn't even know what a B.A. or B.S. was. I just knew I wanted to better myself. I filled out the applications by myself, did the interviews by myself, got financial aid by myself, etc. The only assistance I received was from the workers at the colleges as I learned my way through the system. Those folks were angels to me. Well, I earned my undergraduate degree, and I went on to earn my doctor of jurisprudence degree. Was it harder for me than someone with a family mentor or a guidance counselor? Definitely, but I just did it.

 

Here is a piece that I just had our dc watch today.

http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/otl/news/story?id=4371874

We discussed how we just need to deal with what we are dealt and not use our challenges as reasons or excuses to not try.

 

Maybe those of us who have preceeded can be angels to those who find themselves in situations that aren't fair.

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If I dig through family records I'm sure I could gather up enough info to be considered 'Native American'... but I just don't feel right about that...even if it means $$$ for dd's college--that money comes from tax payers like me!

 

Colleges/Universities get all sorts of federal money based on minority enrollment. I wish we lived in a color blind society--but we do not and knowing our country's history this is a sort of 'reverse discrimination' that is attempting to right past wrongs and make everything 'equal' (whatever that means!).

 

My dd just auditioned for a State Band. Her audition was 'blind'--the judges could not tell if she was a minority or even her gender. They judged her on how SHE PLAYED... in the end there was a good mix of minorities and gender in the final product! I almost wish colleges worked the same way...

 

When I graduated college and was looking for my first teaching job I had one school official who said that he really liked my application and references--but he needed a minority or a 'male' teacher to keep up with state mandates for ratios!

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From a fairness point of view, the college board can't control a lot of factors. Race, economics, educational opportunity, maturity of a student, etc. are all factors that will influence scores. But, they *can* control who can test and I can't see how a first time test taker can compete with someone who has taken the test repeatedly since they were 12.

 

I recently attended a seminary by James Stobaugh, who is way into the SAT for homeschoolers, and into homeschoolers applying to Harvard & such. He really discourages early & repeated testing. He says in his tutoring experience, overall total scores rarely improve. He feels students often get test-phobic. And he looks at the SAT as more like an IQ test, which is not conducive to test prep.

 

 

In my own personal experience, I tutor at a place where we have quite a few upper-crust students on a fast track. I don't hear about them repeating the SAT dozens of times. In fact, I see them often not caring about testing that they know doesn't matter. And most of all, I think you will never level the playing field as far as opportunity -- many of them go to private schools that cost thousands of dollars, and have extra tutoring that is hundreds per month. But it's okay. The ones who don't get academics, don't get academics. And the ones who do, don't always try or care or live up to their potential or have a good day.

 

I don't think it's the tests that will put students at a disadvantage. Perhaps their family connections will, but I really doubt the testing is that big of a factor, IMHO.

 

 

Just a couple more perspectives to add to the conversation.

 

Julie

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How does the Talent Identification thing work nowadays. I took the SAT in 7th grade with Duke TIP and was a Texas winner - remember going to Austin for some award. I kept taking the SAT yearly for practice, not sure if that was all the way through high school. I would love my children to have the chance to take the SAT for practice at a young age, honestly. How can we do that as homeschoolers?

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Yes there are. My son had a friend who could have gotten full ride to several colleges because he is minority (based on his PSAT scores). He scored several points below my son who just missed NMSF status. But because he was a minority (or half) he was considered a finalist for that minority. It had nothing to do with income because the boy's dad work with my husband and I know his approximate income. It had nothing to do with family size because they have half the number of children we do. The only thing determining it was his minority status.

 

Linda

 

This is the National Achievement program (at least, that's what it was called when I went to college.) After the National Merit Scholars are chosen (the top of the list, no consideration of minority status or not) they go down the list below them choosing only minority students. They become National Acheivement Scholars. A girl on my dorm floor was one (I was National Merit,) and she was on a full ride.

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I would love my children to have the chance to take the SAT for practice at a young age, honestly. How can we do that as homeschoolers?

 

Just go to the College Board website, create an account for them and sign them up for the date and testing center you want. There is no age limit. Make sure you have a picture ID for them.

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My son would kill me if I made him take the SAT or anything else "for practice".

 

I've had him take a state standardized test and a SAT subject test and both times the results were lost.

 

He has no intention of ever taking anything, ever again.

 

 

a

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Since my daughter has just taken the SAT as a 7th grader, I have been pondering the fairness of the process.

 

In many schools throughout the US, middle school students with high enough test scores from other standardized tests are "invited" through "Talent Search" programs to take the SAT or ACT in middle school.

 

In reality, although I don't think most people are aware of this, any student can register through the college board to take the SAT without any special "invitation".

 

I found this Washington Post article interesting:

 

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/04/09/AR2009040904051.html

 

And in particular, this quote:

 

"We don't want young people to game the system," said Richard Shaw, dean of admissions at Stanford University. "What we want them to be is open and honest and transparent."

 

And Shaw said he worried that wealthy students who can afford test-preparation classes would get an unfair advantage. "If you start practicing and working with a consultant in the 10th grade, eventually you might get scores that are off the charts, but that's not something that low-income students will have access to," he said.

 

I have had this same thought over and over again. Many students take the SAT cold. They have no fancy preparation and no repeated testing experiences since middle school. These students are being compared with other students who have savvy parents guiding them to experiences and preparations that will pay off in their scores.

 

So, it really leads me to question how fair it is to allow multiple testing experiences. Doesn't this give already bright students an unfair advantage? And what about low income students or students with less savvy or less educated parents; how are they supposed to compete when some little Johnnys are super prepped and testing for the fourth time in as many years?

 

Yes---I totally believe it is unfair! In fact, my personal opinion now that I found out that 7th graders start being 'groomed' for these tests (NOT in our town) leads me to think that the SAT and ACT are now ridiculous farces whose necessity should be retired. These tests are unfair, biased and a ridiculous gauge for college admission or 'education'! At the very least, the kids who have been prepped and groomed for years on end or whose parents could afford to spend hundreds on elite prep classes should have to include disclaimers on the test scores themselves to help even the playing field for people who don't have access to this type of stuff. If the scores are still low for these prepped kids, then at the very least it would show that perhaps the classes etc. aren't as necessary?

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As it is with all things, being better educated and better off financially gives one's children some advantages. So what? That isn't anything new in human history. What is new that there is some movement now between classes. We have changed more towards a meritocracy. You can't level the paying field because God didn't give us all the same talents and smarts. We can only do the best with what we have. Keep on keeping on and don't worry about the advantages others have. It will keep you blood pressure lower.

 

:iagree:

 

The SAT is certainly not the only area where wealth and education help one's child. It is probably one of the smallest factors.

 

Any child can practice for the SAT (there are fee waivers for need and you can get test prep books at the library.) It takes, like so many other factors of success, an involved parent (or other adult.) I am not convinced that taking it repeatedly is the best practice, so dc will take the SAT and ACT once through MATS in 7th-8th grade and then we will do little test prep until they take it once (or twice) as high school students. I took each twice, and I raised my SAT score slightly, but not my ACT score. I never studied in any way, though, and I made National Merit Scholar and a 34 on the ACT. Practice and prep are not necessary. A solid education is. :001_smile: (And though those scores helped me get in the door at scholarship interviews, it was the 500+ volunteer hours at a local hospital and long record of leadership in school and community activities that secured my scholarship, so those hours were better spent than in test prep.)

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good point Dot, "simply" was a poor choice of words. I suppose I meant "inexpensively" and "easily available". And in our area, the libraries in the lower income neighborhoods are quite a bit larger and better that some of the more affluent suburb branches, especially the children's sections (we drive into the "hood" to go to one!). I agree also that it needs to start young and that the benefits are exponential as the kids grow up year by year without these advantages. I'm just saying it's a great opportunity available to everyone, regardless of income, and it makes a big difference in the kids' success.

 

:iagree: Until very recently the best libraries were in a part of town that you needed to have a police escort to get to the door and to your car. The front of it was crowded with drug dealers and loiterers. From morning til close. They finally put one on the side of town that people go to the library. In the "hood" the only people in the library were people who didn't live in the area but came because they had the best selection and the hoodlums using the computer for email, facebook, and porn. There were no filters because of the "freedom of speech" clause that is perverted to cover this issue. But that is another post entirely.

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:iagree:

 

The SAT is certainly not the only area where wealth and education help one's child. It is probably one of the smallest factors.

 

Any child can practice for the SAT (there are fee waivers for need and you can get test prep books at the library.) It takes, like so many other factors of success, an involved parent (or other adult.) I am not convinced that taking it repeatedly is the best practice, so dc will take the SAT and ACT once through MATS in 7th-8th grade and then we will do little test prep until they take it once (or twice) as high school students. I took each twice, and I raised my SAT score slightly, but not my ACT score. I never studied in any way, though, and I made National Merit Scholar and a 34 on the ACT. Practice and prep are not necessary. A solid education is. :001_smile: (And though those scores helped me get in the door at scholarship interviews, it was the 500+ volunteer hours at a local hospital and long record of leadership in school and community activities that secured my scholarship, so those hours were better spent than in test prep.)

 

THe fee waivers have to come through a school and if you are homeschooled you do not qualify. If any of you got around that let me know.

And there are different levels of SAT I have come to believe. I think there are the easy, not so and hard ones. Having 3 seniors take the SATs for 2 years multiple times and the one who did nothing but read Harry Potter for his 11th grade year scored a 1560. He is a reading fanantic but only fantasy and junk. So, what to think? the Harry Potter Series and that dragon series as required reading before the SAT?

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The talent searches aren't signing kids up to take the SAT in 7th grade in order to "groom" them for future success on the SAT in 11th grade. They're signing them up because these kids have maxed out on their grade level standardized tests, rendering the info from the standardized tests utterly useless as a comparative measurement. A test way above grade level, like the SAT or ACT, is the only way they have to get info to separate out the kids clumped in the top 5% of at-grade level tests. They're not practicing 4-5 years in advance. That just sounds silly!

 

Practice tests would be just as beneficial for "grooming", if not more helpful... you can read the answers and see what you did wrong and actually learn from mistakes.

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OK, we may not be on the same page, but at least we're in the same book.:D

 

I have been reading about kids that retake the test a number of times. Especially in high school when they are dissatisfied with their first scores and/or need a specific score for a scholarship or admittance to a university. But also, kids are retaking it yearly just for practice since the score choice means their scores aren't reported.

 

Very few colleges require full disclosure and even those that do don't care if there are several scores. The WP article I linked to above suggests that colleges ignore the lower scores, regardless of how many, and only pay attention to the higher.

I agree that there are benefits to retesting, and benefits to having savvy parents who can guide you. I agree that it's not entirely fair. But of all of those, I think the 7th grade SAT probably has the least effect. A huge number of the 7th grade talent search kids will not retake it until they're juniors or seniors, and I don't think whatever they remember from a 4-years-past experience on one Saturday morning is going to really have stuck with them in any practical way.

 

And even if someone does retake the SAT over and over, I'm not sure that it has as big an effect as you think. I have tutored kids preparing for the SAT, and honestly there's only so much you can do without the years of solid education to build on. And what you can do doesn't require a ton of retesting. A careful run through a prep book or a few practice tests, or even the "question of the day" feature on collegeboard.com would give you most of what you need.

 

Where I see the biggest advantages are in those other things you've mentioned -- savvy parents, money, camps and classes. I don't call those SAT prep, and I wouldn't lump them in with testing over and over, but they certainly can add to your score just by setting you up to be where you need to be when you take it. Actually of all of that, the talent search (which as you say rests on a name that no one could miss) may have the potential to reach kids who wouldn't otherwise have those advantages. A teacher keeping an eye out for someone who might benefit at an early age could get a kid on that track even if his parents wouldn't have thought of it. There's financial aid, and while it wouldn't overcome all obstacles, it's a start.

 

I know DS has a bunch of advantages. For one thing obviously he's homeschooled. He has parents who can afford to arrange their schedules around his schooling (and who care to), and even more than that - parents who are willing to go out of their way to provide opportunities. Some of that involves money, but a lot of it is the savvy you mention -- I can find resources that others might not even know exist. I know where to look and what to look for, and I know what's worth our effort. Almost nothing of what we put our energy into will translate into SAT scores, but almost all of it has the potential to look really good on an application. Better than whatever SAT score he could get by spending this time in prep.

 

Is it fair? Not really. Are we doing it anyway? Heck yeah! I share what I can with whomever I can -- I post opportunities to our local group, I offer to coach math and science teams, I even pay for things that benefit a whole group and not just us. It doesn't really "level the playing field" but it's what I can do. He still has some extra advantages. I can tell everyone about the science fair until I'm blue in the face, but it's not going to make them all scientists. The fact that DS grew up around scientists and engineers and statisticians and speaks their "language" is likely to pay off in much bigger ways than anything else, but that's something a parent or a teacher really doesn't manage. It's partly luck and partly just being who we are. Geeky parents have geeky friends. Completely unfair, but not a playing field you could level.

 

If you're looking for unfair advantages there are plenty. My point is only that the talent search isn't where I'd look.

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I agree that there are benefits to retesting, and benefits to having savvy parents who can guide you. I agree that it's not entirely fair. But of all of those, I think the 7th grade SAT probably has the least effect. A huge number of the 7th grade talent search kids will not retake it until they're juniors or seniors, and I don't think whatever they remember from a 4-years-past experience on one Saturday morning is going to really have stuck with them in any practical way.

 

And even if someone does retake the SAT over and over, I'm not sure that it has as big an effect as you think. I have tutored kids preparing for the SAT, and honestly there's only so much you can do without the years of solid education to build on. And what you can do doesn't require a ton of retesting. A careful run through a prep book or a few practice tests, or even the "question of the day" feature on collegeboard.com would give you most of what you need.

 

Where I see the biggest advantages are in those other things you've mentioned -- savvy parents, money, camps and classes. I don't call those SAT prep, and I wouldn't lump them in with testing over and over, but they certainly can add to your score just by setting you up to be where you need to be when you take it. Actually of all of that, the talent search (which as you say rests on a name that no one could miss) may have the potential to reach kids who wouldn't otherwise have those advantages. A teacher keeping an eye out for someone who might benefit at an early age could get a kid on that track even if his parents wouldn't have thought of it. There's financial aid, and while it wouldn't overcome all obstacles, it's a start.

 

I know DS has a bunch of advantages. For one thing obviously he's homeschooled. He has parents who can afford to arrange their schedules around his schooling (and who care to), and even more than that - parents who are willing to go out of their way to provide opportunities. Some of that involves money, but a lot of it is the savvy you mention -- I can find resources that others might not even know exist. I know where to look and what to look for, and I know what's worth our effort. Almost nothing of what we put our energy into will translate into SAT scores, but almost all of it has the potential to look really good on an application. Better than whatever SAT score he could get by spending this time in prep.

 

Is it fair? Not really. Are we doing it anyway? Heck yeah! I share what I can with whomever I can -- I post opportunities to our local group, I offer to coach math and science teams, I even pay for things that benefit a whole group and not just us. It doesn't really "level the playing field" but it's what I can do. He still has some extra advantages. I can tell everyone about the science fair until I'm blue in the face, but it's not going to make them all scientists. The fact that DS grew up around scientists and engineers and statisticians and speaks their "language" is likely to pay off in much bigger ways than anything else, but that's something a parent or a teacher really doesn't manage. It's partly luck and partly just being who we are. Geeky parents have geeky friends. Completely unfair, but not a playing field you could level.

 

If you're looking for unfair advantages there are plenty. My point is only that the talent search isn't where I'd look.

 

I disagree.

 

All of the advantages you have listed regarding your son are more or less "God given".

 

This specific advantage (testing multiple times) is created by big name universities wanting to establish a connection with bright students for their future student body ($) and the college board ($) who purport to offer a test that fairly represents academic talent and intelligence.

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The talent searches aren't signing kids up to take the SAT in 7th grade in order to "groom" them for future success on the SAT in 11th grade. They're signing them up because these kids have maxed out on their grade level standardized tests, rendering the info from the standardized tests utterly useless as a comparative measurement. A test way above grade level, like the SAT or ACT, is the only way they have to get info to separate out the kids clumped in the top 5% of at-grade level tests. They're not practicing 4-5 years in advance. That just sounds silly!

 

Practice tests would be just as beneficial for "grooming", if not more helpful... you can read the answers and see what you did wrong and actually learn from mistakes.

 

The students are being groomed to be future member of Big Name U through this special "invitation". (I put that in quotes, because again, you don't *need* an invitation to take the test as a 7th grader.)

 

And of course they are practicing 4 to 5 years in advance and occasionally more than that. That's a main benefit to the early testers. I don't see why that is silly?

 

Lastly, practice tests are not the same at all. You are at home, with your hot cocoa and your dog, practicing. It is not the same as experiencing a *real* testing environment. Ask any musician who plays their piece perfectly at home but freezes at the big show about the difference.

 

Incidentally, you can pay to have your actual test and answers from the real test sent home to you. This helps you practice to retake.

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THe fee waivers have to come through a school and if you are homeschooled you do not qualify. If any of you got around that let me know.

And there are different levels of SAT I have come to believe. I think there are the easy, not so and hard ones. Having 3 seniors take the SATs for 2 years multiple times and the one who did nothing but read Harry Potter for his 11th grade year scored a 1560. He is a reading fanantic but only fantasy and junk. So, what to think? the Harry Potter Series and that dragon series as required reading before the SAT?

 

Homeschooled students

Homeschooled students are eligible for fee-waiver cards provided they meet the income guidelines. These students must provide proof of eligibility (tax records, public assistance records, or record of enrollment in an aid program) to a local high school counselor. If the student is eligible, issue a fee-waiver card and review the card with him or her.

 

http://professionals.collegeboard.com/testing/waivers/guidelines/sat

 

If your local school won't do it, I would try others or call the College Board directly. It may be that the counselors don't know they can, so maybe try printing the page linked and taking it with you? You may have already done all of that thought - I'd be interested to know how it is handled around here.

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KJB, you do need to have a certain level of scores to test through Johns Hopkins for the SAT (or other talent searches). It used to be the 95th percentile on some other test, but state tests using "advanced" complicate things. Still, my point is that the "invitation" is really more of an entrance criteria than a special invite. ANY kid can test on the SAT at any age, without going through a talent search, but if there scores are not already high, these are not the kids JHU is hoping to offer their programs (not practice).

 

JHU/CTY's goal is NOT to groom for the test...it's to discern amongst many top scorers, to find kids that are already exceptionally bright, and offer them (albeit expensive) programs. Not all kids that test at the 95th percentile on grade level measures are at the level JHU is trying to find.

 

If this has the side advantage of giving smart kids "practice", so be it. This is NOT JHU's goal.

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