What on earth does John Boehner have to do with the SAT’s? Well not so much and a great deal. Boehner’s decision to resign from Congress and from his position as Speaker may have lessened the chances of a government shutdown but it has increased the chance that the very fragile compromise to the new No Child Left Behind (NCLB) may not make it out of committee. The House Freedom Caucus of very conservative members wants the federal role in education to be totally removed. Any bill will need to satisfy the Senate, the President as well as enough House members to get it passed. Problem is the Senate, the President and many House members want to keep in the annual mandated testing to maintain “standards”. The compromise bill that is in the works shifts a significant amount of responsibility to states and local districts, but it maintains the annual testing. The original NCLB not only required the annual testing but also promised on grade proficiency in reading and math by 2014. When folks came down from whatever they were smoking when they thought that would happen, the feds started issuing waivers fast and furiously. However, for the majority of legislators the annual testing still seems to be very important as a measure of maintaining standards.
So where are the SAT’s in all this? Simple. While our esteemed members of Congress are still beating the drum for testing, colleges and universities are moving away from the idea that the SAT and ACT scores predict who should enter post-secondary education and who should not. In recent years hundreds of higher ed schools are saying these tests are optional. Recently Hampshire College in Massachusetts has flat out said they won’t accept them at all. In fact, Hampshire College has said people just teach to the test and the tests do not measure evidence of curiosity, learning across disciplines or simply flat out bad test takers. Goucher College in Baltimore has started allowing a video application. So as more and more higher ed facilities are saying tests aren’t predictable of success and are moving away from them, the United States Congress is just hanging on to what is clearly a tool that has lost its usefulness.
Does a heart good to know that our leadership people in Washington are running hard to keep up with the rear of the best thinking in education.