As anyone who has heard me speak at seminars, conferences or high school parents' night, I believe that standardized tests are controversial, stressful and ... important. What a paradox! Most schools rely on them heavily for their admissions and financial aid decisions, it's true. But they are under attack from many sides.
Check out this article from the New York Times: Study of Standardized Admissions Tests Is Big Draw at College Conference.
The recent conference in Seattle hosted by the National Association of College Admissions Counselors (NACAC) has sparks flying over the subject of standardized tests, generated primarily by the presentation on the "Study of the Use of Standardized Tests in Undergraduate Admission" by William R. Fitzsimmons, the dean of admissions at Harvard. Mr. Fitzsimmons re-asserted the often-expressed opinion that standardized admissions tests are “incredibly imprecise” when it comes to measuring academic ability and how well students will perform in college.
He also asserted an opinion that I often express myself, that “educational quality has nothing to do, or very little to do, with actual average SAT scores.”
NACAC convened a Commission on the Use of Standardized Tests in Undergraduate Admission, which issued its report after a year-long study. You can see the study here:
The bottom line is this: the colleges understand the inequities and possible misuses of the tests, but they have no attention of discontinuing the use of the tests because they are useful in segmenting the applicants of the incoming class.
Let us not forget one other important factor: the tests are used by various ranking services - such as the US News and World Report - that deliver students to the colleges' doorsteps. And that means revenue. So, until the ranking systems de-emphasize the tests, the schools will continue to place a high value on students' test results.