Standardized Tests: Fair or Unfair?

There has been a lot of discussions surrounding the fairness of standardized exams for quite some time. For many low-income students, there are many obstacles that put them off the path to college. They miss a key deadline, or incorrectly fill out a form, or fail to take a required class, and thereby fall off the path to college. This is the reality for many Americans applying to college. 

In terms of standardized tests (ACT or SAT), these tests are required at virtually every selective university across the nation. In order to take the test, one has to have access to a computer to sign up, a credit card, and depending on the location, a car. The nearest testing center may be in a suburb that is unreachable by public transportation early on a Saturday morning. 

The State of Michigan has taken a step in the right direction in order to alleviate this problem: "In Michigan, in 2007, the ACT became part of the test required of juniors in the public schools. As a result of this shift in policy, the share of Michigan’s high school students taking a college entrance exam rose from 54 percent to nearly 99 percent. The growth was even sharper among low-income students, of whom only 35 percent were previously taking the test." 

However, there are inherent disadvantages that still exist. For example, wealthy students have the extra resources to afford tutors and extra help on these exams, which can put them at a huge advantage. 

I would like to open this discussion to the caucus to see what their thoughts on this issue are. 

Questions to Consider: 

1. Do you think the current system is fair? Why or why not?

2. How can the system be improved?

3. Should a 2-3 hour test be such a deciding factor in terms of where one ends up at school? Does it really test their true abilities?