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Facts, Lies & the Moral of the Story

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What the College Board says about SAT exams:

"It's fair to everyone."

"The questions are rigorously researched and tested to make sure students from all backgrounds have an equal chance to do well."

"Students who do well in the classroom are often the same ones who will do well on the SAT."

What we say

The SAT tests are totally unfair to many students. Students from poor families don't do as well as students from wealth families because they can't afford expensive test prep classes. Moral of the story: Money can't buy love, but it can sure buy higher test scores.

Male students do better on the SAT tests than female students. Yet female students perform better in college (and high school) than their male counterparts. This shows that there is something systemically wrong with the tests. Despite the College Board's claims, these tests don't predict college performance. If they did, wouldn't females do better on the tests? Obviously they would, but they don't because the tests are biased towards males. Moral of the story: If you are female, you are at a disadvantage because the tests are stacked against you.

Students whose first language is not English must take the test in English and are not given any additional time to read or answer the questions. Is this fair? Not exactly. Moral of the story: If your first language isn't English you are at a huge disadvantage.

What about the ACTs?

The ACT scores are also biased toward wealthy students. There is a direct correlation between a family's income and the ACT tests score. What's most troubling about the ACT test is that many four-year colleges in the Mid-West and South use the scores to determine scholarships. Moral of the story: The wealthiest students get the most scholarship money.

SAT+ACT

Both say that their tests are not coachable, that those who can afford to pay for test prep classes or hire expensive tutors don't have an advantage over those students who can't afford prep classes. Yet study after study shows that test prep classes do raise scores. And the most expensive test prep classes are the most effective at raising scores. They claim test prep materials don't help, and yet they sell test prep materials. Moral of the story: Do as we say, not as we do.

Let's face it, if the SAT and ACT folks were to admit that test prep classes work, then they'd have to admit their tests are biased toward the wealthy.

About Us

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Allie Kauffmann

Allie Kauffmann

...is a senior at Medfield High School, where she is active in the Theater Society, the Jazz Choir and Concert Choir. She is the vice-president of the Badminton Club, and is a member of the National Honor Society and the French Honor Society. She has lived overseas with her family in South Africa and Uganda. She enjoys hiking, running, white water canoeing, kayaking, and discussing good films. Regretfully, most of her free time during the school year is spent doing homework.

Sam Kauffman

Sam Kauffmann

...was named a Guggenheim Fellow in Creative Arts—Film in 2009. He is a professor at Boston University, where he teaches film production and editing. He recently completed Kids Living with Slim (2010) about African children who are HIV positive. His previous film, Massacre at Murambi (2007), was aired on the PBS series P.O.V. It won top prizes and was screened at festivals all over the world. In 2004, he was a Fulbright Scholar, teaching production at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda. His films have been screened at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, The White House and aired on network television, PBS, and local stations throughout America. He is the author of one of the most popular editing guidebooks in the world: Avid Editing: A Guide for Beginning and Intermediate Users, from Focal Press, which has recently been translated into Russian, Spanish and Chinese editions.