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Ethics of SAT Use in College Admission

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Ethan Biamonte

on 16 November 2013

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Transcript of Ethics of SAT Use in College Admission

Is it ethical to use the SAT in
college admission?
What is the SAT?
Three sections:
College Board's Studies
Independent Studies
Large factor in College Admission
= Important Consequences
"The SAT is
to use in
because it
Race & Gender
Income bias in the SAT
Income bias
SAT scores important for admission
College degree = more earnings
Students with higher family incomes perform better on the SAT
SAT score
Greg Mankiw's criticism
"Suppose we were to graph average SAT scores by the number of bathrooms
a student has in his or her family home. That curve would also likely slope upward. (After all, people with more money buy larger homes with more bathrooms.) But it would be a mistake to conclude that installing an extra toilet raises yours kids' SAT scores."

One Explanation:
SAT preparatory materials use
"Coaching the SAT"
In the typical study, the effect of coaching was to raise achievement test scores by .25 standard deviations.
Student Subject Percentile Score

1 CR 50~ 500

WR 50~ 490

M ~50 510
Before coaching
After coaching (+0.25 S.D.)
Student Subject Percentile Score

1' CR 60~ 530

WR 60~ 520

M ~60 550

= 100 points

An average student could
raise his SAT score by 100 points
through coaching.
δS1 score = 30
δS2 score = 30
δS3 score = 40
An unfair test or an unfair society?
Other measures of achievement do not
significantly correlate with family income
Correlations of High School Rank and SAT with Socioeconomic Background
(Crouse & Trusheim)
Measure Family income Father's occupation

SAT 0.286 0.296

HSR 0.029 0.043
"The income of a student's parents has no relationship to [college] freshman GPA, either before or after controlling for high school grades, academic aptitude, and college selectivity"
(Astin, 1971)
Do GPA and Extracurricular Accomplishments correlate with income like the SAT does?
"Students from families with different incomes did not significantly differ in the number or level of accomplishments they reported"
(ETS, 1991)
-SAT's coachibility
-SAT's strong correlation with income
-HSR, ECs, and GPA do not correlate with income
The SAT has an income bias!
Is it ethical for colleges to use the SAT given its income bias?
Racial Bias in the SAT
Racial & gender bias in the SAT
Average SAT score by race in the United States
Average SAT score by race in North Carolina
Possible explanations for this discrepancy
Bias in question construction:
The SAT uses an experimental section to test questions that
may be used on future tests.
If experimental questions perform well, they are used.

If experimental questions perform poorly, they are not.
+1 random
experimental section
Bias in question construction:
"Black questions"-
more Blacks than Whites answered correctly.
"White questions"-
more Whites than Blacks answered correctly.
Gender bias in the SAT
How do we know this is the result of bias
in the test?
According to Kessel & Linn, young
women typically earn the same or higher grades
as their male counterparts in math and other college courses
despite having SAT-Math scores 30-50 points lower.
What elements of the SAT Math section cause it to have a gender bias?
• Premium on efficiency rather than sustained reasoning

• Self-confidence

Is it ethical for colleges to use the SAT given its racial and gender biases?
• SAT biased against minorities
such as African-Americans.

• SAT biased against females.
It is unethical for
colleges to use the
SAT in admission.
"This is a test where everybody's
saying, 'Look, we're just being
an incredibly fair society here.
Everybody takes this test. And the
better kids go to the better schools.'"
He continues, "And it's just bullshit.
You know the better kids hire me."
- John Katzman, founder of
the Princeton Review
Works Cited
Bangert-Drowns, Robert, James A. Kulik, and Chen-Lin C. Kulik. “Effects of Coaching Programs on Achievement Test Performance.”
Sage Journals 3.83 (2008): n. pag. Web. 15 Oct. 2013.

Crouse, James, and Dale Trusheim. The Case Against the SAT. Chicago: University of Chicago, 1988. Print.

Economix, Catherine Rampell. “SAT Scores and Family Income.” Economix. New York Times. Web. 15 Oct. 2013.

Elert, Glenn. “The SAT: Aptitude or Demographics?” E-World (2008): n. pag. Web. 15 Oct. 2013.

Kendi, Ibram X. “New Mind-Boggling Evidence Proves SAT Bias.” Diverse. Web. 15 Oct. 2013.

Mankiw, Greg. “The Least Surprising Correlation of All Time.” Greg Mankiw’s Blog. Web. 15 Oct. 2013.

"The North Carolina 1998 Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) Report." Public Schools of North Carolina. State Board of
Education, n.d. Web. 15 Oct. 2013.

Rosner, Jay. “The SAT: Quantifying the Unfairness Behind the Bubbles.” SAT Wars. 2012: Chapter 6. Print.

"SAT Percentile Ranks." College Board, 2013. Web. 15 Oct. 2013.

"SAT-Math Gender Bias: Causes & Consequences." FairTest, n.d. Web. 15 Oct. 2013.

"Oarsman and Regatta"

A) envoy: embassy

B) martyr: massacre

C) oarsman: regatta

D) referee: tournament

E) horse: stable
of White students answered correctly

of African-American students answered correctly.
Isn't this information too old to still be
• Differential Item Functioning (DIF)
Full transcript