College Board’s own research at odds with its decision to axe the SAT essay

The College Board’s decision on Jan. 19, 2021 to eliminate the essay portion of the SAT may have delighted millions of current and future high school students but its discontinuation could also be a loss for students of color and those whose primary language isn’t English.

“The essay may actually have been particularly helpful for predicting the college success of disadvantaged students,” said Jack Buckley, a former head of research at the College Board, via email. “Ironic that, at a time when standardized testing is under immense pressure not only due to the pandemic but also from the anti-racist movement, CB [College Board] would discontinue a feature of their flagship college entrance examination that their own research argues helped level the playing field.”

Buckley’s opinion carries special weight because he helped lead the 2016 redesign of the SAT. He was also the commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics in the Department of Education for three years during the Obama Administration.

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