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SAT success correlates with family income, grades do not

The Story Behind the SAT Overhaul: In a story for The New York Times Magazine on the SAT Overhaul, Todd Balf featured Wake Forest’s test optional policy and interviewed Joseph A. Soares, the sociology professor whose research has focused on weaknesses surrounding standardized testing. Balf writes:

Around the time the report came out — and following the publication of “The Power of Privilege,” by the Wake Forest University sociology professor Joseph A. Soares, an account of the way standardized tests contributed to discriminatory admissions policies at Yale — Wake Forest became the first highly rated institution (it regularly appears as a Top 30 university on the U.S. News & World Report college rankings) to announce a test-optional admissions policy. Follow-up studies at Wake Forest showed that the average high-school G.P.A. of incoming freshmen increased after the school stopped using standardized-test scores as a factor. Seventy-nine percent of its 2012 incoming class was in the top 10 percent of their high-school classes. Before going test-optional, that figure was in the low 60s. In addition, the school became less homogeneous. “The test highly correlates with family income,” says Soares, who also edited a book that, in part, examines the weak predictive validity of the SAT at the University of Georgia, Johns Hopkins University and Wake Forest. “High-school grades do not.” He continued, “We have a lot more social, racial and lifestyle diversity. You see it on campus. Wake Forest was a little too much like a J. Crew catalog before we went test-optional.”

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