Last week, the College Board announced that the writing portion of the SAT college admissions test would be made optional. The move returns the test to its pre-2005 form with its 1,600-point scale based upon math and reading questions.
The speculated reasons for the change include the fact that the SAT has been losing market share to the ACT college admissions test and that the SAT writing section is an unnatural and flawed writing indicator. These may be the actual motivating reasons for the change, but the SAT and the college admission process in general is flawed in a much more fundamental way.
It’s no secret that the SAT, like most other educational metrics, is strongly correlated to the socioeconomic status of the student that takes it. The richer and more educated a kid’s parents are, the better they do on the test, all the way up and down the income educational attainment scales.
Although much has been made recently of the undermatching of high-performing, low-income students with good colleges, expensive test prep courses and the increasing cost of college, it is class-based credential disparities that dominantly drive class-based disparities in college access. This is true for both the attendance of college itself and the quality of college attended. The parents of richer kids are certainly able to corruptly rig the game here and there in their favor, but the fact remains that kids from poorer backgrounds are just, on the whole, far behind their more affluent peers by the time college rolls around.