SAT’s Hinder Upward Mobility of Students in Low Income and Racially Ethnic Families

By Karissa M. Gaughan1851 Contributor

Drawing by Karissa M. Gaughan

Standardized testing shouldn’t dictate a student’s eligibility or acceptance into college or university. The preconceived notion that test scores predict the potential success of future students has been a disservice to the young minds in our educational system. 

I’m sure many of those who went onto professional careers, as well as those working retail and waitressing jobs, can tell you how important their SAT score was for them in determining their future. The main purpose for creating the SATs in 1926 was to measure high schoolers readiness for college based on one common data point between applicants. Over the progression of years, this standardized test has proven biased to wealthier students’ education as well as racial gaps in scores.

One factor not taken into consideration at the time was wealthier families can afford tutoring and SAT test preps as opposed to lower-income classmates. Upper class citizens who have the means to invest in after-school programs and one on one educational learning are at a higher success rate academically. These students are inclined to get higher scores on SATs than less financially competent classmates. The college acceptance process that requires SAT scores favors rich, well educated families.

Besides wealth, SATs have shown to discriminate against students in ethnic  communities. This racial gap has been largely due to socioeconomic disparities between hispanic, Black, and white families. Black and hispanic families are at a higher probability of lower income, but as stated in the Journal of Blacks In Higher Education, Black families with incomes higher than $100,000 scored below that of white families with $10,000 incomes. This proves that 1.) wealthier families have an edge over lower income classmates, and 2.) this doesn’t apply to wealthy Black families because of their race.  

These matters have already been considered in-light of the SAT adversity score which acknowledges the impact of societal hardships like crime rates and poverty levels. Two ratings 1-50, one for a students school environment and one for the students neighborhood environment, weigh into how these pressures can affect students’ scores. The mere fact that the adversity score was implemented by the College Board in the first place is almost as good as an admission of guilt that the SAT is unfair for students.

SATs have hindered the upward mobility of students who come from racially ethnic backgrounds, and lower-income households. Not to mention that multiple choice tests don’t really say much about the ‘potential’ of a student when confined to choices A,B,C, or D. Standardized testing should be eradicated in the college application processes and shouldn’t dictate a student’s eligibility or acceptance into college or university. When the obstacles students face today greatly outweigh the benefits to standardized testing, our community has an obligation to better educate youthful minds who are less fortunate.

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