Matt's Past SAT/ACT News Update

Matt O'Connor

Dec 07, 2018

ACT will add a February test date in New York State. Due to a specific New York State law, companies administering college entrance exams must make regular disclosures test forms administered each year to the State Education Department. New York State high school students will now have six test dates each year to take the ACT, rather than the current five.

US News has offered some insight into how test optional policies apply to international students. offers it's updated, interactive national map of average high-school SAT and ACT scores, median household income, and other socioeconomic indicators. The map has data for the 28 states that make sufficient SAT/ACT score data available.

[Excerpt from the map description]:

This map reminds us that education in our country is still separate and unequal, especially in our large urban centers. At many public high schools, often in higher-income areas, an average student scores well enough to get into hundreds of colleges across the country. Yet at many other high schools, especially those in low-income neighborhoods, even the most hardworking and committed students struggle to get a score that meets the SAT and ACT college readiness benchmarks. This is not only an achievement gap but an opportunity gap.

An interesting series of articles about standardized testing have appeared recently on Forbes:

1. How Much Do Rising Test Scores Tell Us About A School? - By Frederick Hess, director of education policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute


For all the attention to testing, there’s been a remarkable lack of curiosity about how much tests tell us. Last spring, for instance, researcher Collin Hitt, of the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, and two coauthors examined the research on school choice and found a striking disconnect between test score gains and longer-term outcomes. They reported, “Programs that produced no measurable positive impacts on achievement have frequently produced positive impacts on attainment” even as “programs that produced substantial test score gains” have shown no impact on high school graduation or college attendance.

2. Is The Big Standardized Test A Big Standardized Flop? - by Peter Greene, 39-year English teacher


There are plenty of reasons to doubt the validity of the Big Standardized Test, be it PARCC or SBA or whatever your state is using these days. After almost two decades of its use, we've raised an entire generation of students around the notion of test-based accountability, and yet the fruits of that seem.... well, elusive. Where are the waves of students now arriving on college campuses super-prepared? Where are the businesses proclaiming that today's grads are the most awesome in history? Where is the increase in citizens with great-paying jobs? Where are any visible signs that the test-based accountability system has worked?

The end result is that the test scores do not tell you what they claim they tell you. They are less like actionable data and more like really expensive noise.

But there is one critical lesson that ed reform testing apostates should keep in mind. The idea that the Big Standardized Test does not measure what it claims to measure, the idea that it actually does damage to schools, the idea that it simply isn't what it claims to be-- while these ideas are presented as new notions for ed reformers, classroom teachers have been raising these concerns for about 20 years.

3. College Admission, Helplessness And Choice - by Brennan Barnard, director of college counseling and outreach at The Derryfield School in New Hampshire, an independent college preparatory school


Isn’t it bad enough that you have to squander the better part of at least one Saturday (likely more) taking standardized tests? Students obsess about test scores and spend unthinkable hours and dollars on test preparation. True, for many selective colleges and universities, the ACT/SAT are necessary evils of admission and therefore you want to do your best to improve. At some point, you must examine why you are investing such considerable time and energy in playing the game, and ask yourself if it is worth it. There are a growing number of test-optional schools and their values may align more appropriately with your own. You can decide not to spend a year or more laboring for increased scores. Perhaps if students everywhere chose only to apply to test-optional schools, it would force the hand of their competitors.

Brandon Busteed, who led Gallup’s education work for seven years, and is now Kaplan, Inc.'s President, University Partners, has written an article titled "It's Time to Try the Opposite of Standardized Testing".


The education system has long asked students to excel on standardized tests. It's high time we asked whether standardized tests have passed our collective test of what should stand as the "be-all and end-all" indicator of success in American education.

The first major wake-up call regarding this question came from one of the world's most admired employers, Google, when it announced it is no longer considering grades and test scores in its hiring practices because "they don't predict anything," as Google's former senior vice president of people operations was quoted as saying.

What students need more than anything else is a test that is for them and about them — one that doesn't ask them all to arrive at the same correct answer to a problem, but instead actually helps them understand how to develop their own unique talents to succeed in school and work and life. A test that gives every student a different answer.

These colleges have recently announced the adoption of a test optional admissions policy:

Evangel University (US News-ranked 2nd tier universities, Midwest; 1,630 undergraduates enrolled; 94% acceptance rate; ACT 25th-75th percentile of 19-25)

Flagler College (US News-ranked #2 in Regional Colleges South; 2,700 undergraduates enrolled; 57% acceptance rate; SAT 25th-75th percentile of 950-1160)

Linfield College (US News-ranked #108 in National Liberal Arts Colleges; 1,535 undergraduates enrolled; acceptance rate of 81%; SAT 25th-75th percentile of 1020-1210)

Macalester College (US New-ranked # 27 among National Liberal Arts Colleges) is contemplating the adoption of a test optional admission policy.