How to shift the knowledge narrative around the SAT

Colleges admissions boards giving more weight to other measures of students' preparedness
By: | February 16, 2021
(AdobeStock/Karen Roach)(AdobeStock/Karen Roach)

As the SAT’s influence wanes, colleges and high schools could place more emphasis on students’ performance in AP courses and on AP tests—which are also administered by the College Board, says Casey Cobb, a professor of educational policy at the University of Connecticut’s Neag School of Education.

“I don’t think the SAT is going away any time soon,” Cobb says. “But AP subject matter tests could contribute to a better system because they’re classroom-based and are more about day-to-day learning.”

District administrators should therefore prepare to accommodate increased interest in AP courses and tests in the coming years, Cobb says.

K-12 educators will also have to guide high school students in compiling digital portfolios and developing other new methods of demonstrating their readiness for college, Cobb says.

Compared to the ACT or SAT, these methods could also help students better identify their own strengths and interests.

“I would encourage district administrators to shift narratives as much as they can, from using tests as entrance requirements to more informative and diagnostic information in terms of how students are growing and learning in a particular field,” Cobb says.

Colleges admissions boards would also have to give more weight to other grade-point averages, the courses students took in high school, extra-curricular activities and other measures, says Morgan Polikoff, an associate professor of education at the University of Southern California’s Rossier School of Education.

“Those are all things that could just as easily as test contribute to inequities in the college admissions process,” he says.

Read the main feature in our “Shifting” SAT series: How SAT shifts will impact college access and equity