Students with lower economic backgrounds have disadvantages.
Photo | Che Muñoz
In a recent study done by the College Board on the 2016 to 2018 scores, the College Board reported that students with a lower household income and with parents that have low education levels are more likely to earn lower scores, with few getting higher than 1100; and for many minorities like African Americans and Latinos, many scores do not even reach more than 1000. AHS is comprised of 47.1% of Latinx and 7.3% of Black/African American students according to the data from SLZUSD and assessments. Considering that 54.5% of students are CSU-eligible, many of them would have been forced to take the SAT to truly go to the schools they dreamed of attending.
AHS is a very diverse school, and students are not afraid to embrace who they are. They are proud of their ethnicity and culture. For a lot of these students, they plan to go off to college to make their families proud, to have a sense of pride for themselves even, but this can only be achieved by taking the SAT. As previously stated, the College Board reports that minorities have a harder time taking the SAT. The College Board reports that these students on average report scores that are below 1000, So wouldn’t this mean that a majority of the students at AHS are going to have a harder time taking the test?
Clearly there is a problem if there are racial minorities that are on average underperforming other racial groups. This begs a question if the SAT is truly a fair test. Is the SAT actually a good measure of a student’s intelligence? The answer is no; the SAT gives those of a higher economic status and those who are privileged a better chance to get a higher score on the test. Due to the fact that many racial minorities are commonly found in schools that are underfunded, it leaves them vulnerable to a lower score and takes them many steps back from achieving their goals.
It’s not anything new that students who don’t have to worry about money, are performing a lot better than those who do not. Students with a higher income have access to private tutors who know the ins and outs of the test. If these private tutors were available to kids of all financial backgrounds, then every student would have an equal opportunity to do well on the test. Unfortunately, most private tutors charge families upwards of $70 an hour for sessions. Not every family is going to be able to hand their wallet over like that. Families of lower income need to worry about paying the bills and putting food on the table. Private tutors are not required for taking the test, so this isn’t a priority.
SAT tutors are providing unfair advantages to students who can afford them. By the time that these students take the test, they will already know what they need in order to speed through the test. Students without knowledge of how the test runs only have the practice test to rely on, but because of the large gap that exists between the practice test to the actual dates for available tests, many of these students will forget any strategies they formed on the practice test and will most certainly feel lost all over again.
In America, we have labeled the nicer neighborhoods as the “suburbs”. In the Bay Area, we know these as Piedmont, Pleasanton, and Palo Alto. These neighborhoods have it all: an abundance of shops, restaurants, parks and most importantly, well-funded schools. Schools with better funding usually produce students that achieve high scores.
These high scores don’t come out of nowhere. However, schools with better funding give their students access to more AP classes, access to more updated textbooks, and teachers who receive better pay. With all these benefits, these students have what they need to learn all the subjects on the SAT in full depth. With more AP classes available to students, these students have more experience with standardized testing as opposed to students in schools where AP tests are small in quantity. The AP test is similar to that of the SAT. There is an abundance of multiple choice questions, and at the end for most tests, a timed essay where a student must think quick and problem solve to get to an answer. The more times a student takes an AP test, the more they become acquainted with that style of test, while students who don’t have to learn how to adapt to the style of standardized testing, while taking the SAT.
Some may argue that you could take the test over and over again to keep getting better scores, and to be fair, yes you could, but this would only cost more money each time you took the test. Students of lower income have the option to have the cost of the test reduced, but according to the College Board, a student is eligible for a total of three price reductions. After this, the student has to pay full price for their tests. By the College Board doing this, they are not giving equal opportunities to those of lower income, students of higher income have the ability to take the test as many times as they want, while lower income students only have so many chances to ensure their futures.
Around the Bay and at AHS, students are submitting applications to a number of CSUs and UCs. These students are forced to have taken the SAT and give these colleges their scores, but due to the unfairness of the SAT, students of lower income have a harder time getting accepted. Everyone should have an equal opportunity at a better future, a chance to better themselves and perhaps the communities they grew up in to ensure a better future in general. This is why we need UCs and CSUs to stop requiring students to take the SAT. Instead, focus on how well a student did in their own school and how well they overcame the odds and persevered. By having these colleges not require the SAT, we will make sure that everyone is equal, and no one is given unfair advantages. •