Wow. Just. WOW.
I’ve been an English teacher, test prep teacher, and testing coordinator for well over a decade and I’ve been privy to some rare, small errors or typos on standardized exams, but this sure beats all. For such a high stakes exam, the SAT absolutely has a responsibility to be created and administered without error and has had a reputation for doing so. But with this occurrence, the proverbial ball has been dropped, bounced off the court, rolled into the parking lot, and lost in a ditch.
If you are a Boston area parent or student getting ready for the SAT Test, and you’re not up to speed on this issue, please see the following articles:
- Students find key error on SATs given across U.S.
- SAT Mistake 2015: Score Invalidation Possibility Worries Students After Printing Error Gives Some Test-Takers More Time
- A history of Pearson’s testing problems worldwide
The outrage and frustration being expressed is definitely warranted. How would you feel if the potential granddaddy of all tests you may ever take was found to be flawed and two entire sections of the test were invalidated? I applaud the tweeter who called out the College Board’s poor proofreading. It is indeed a brutal irony that a test which, among other skills, assesses a potential college freshman’s proofreading ability, failed to catch a critical error of its own!
Yet, despite what we may think, even academics are only human and at times susceptible to human error. Even rocket scientists at NASA made a simple error in not converting English measurement to the metric system in 1999. This “slip up” caused a $125 million dollar Mars orbiting satellite to go off course and is likely orbiting the sun at the moment, if it hasn’t already been destroyed. Bye bye Mars exploration, bye bye $125 million.
Perhaps this is a learning opportunity. We are reminded that we are only human, important details can get lost in the shuffle if we aren’t careful, and anything can happen and it’s wise to be prepared for it. However, this likely provides little comfort to the worlds of those test takers that were rocked by this recent error by the College Board.
The solution being offered by the College Board seems vague, but I would think it would have to favor the students’ scores. If they’re not counting the scores for two sections, what could that mean for the students who may have aced them and possibly would receive a higher overall score if they were counted? Would it also give an unfair advantage to those who would have received a lower score for the same reason? Of course, there’s no way to determine this, but if they’re not scoring the affected sections, does this mean the overall score is under 2400?
More details not only about how the scores will be tabulated, but how will they play into college applications is definitely needed. I’m very curious as to how the college admissions offices view this situation. To prevent potential further errors in the admissions process, the College Board should also consider how the scores will be received and interpreted by colleges and universities. How will they adapt these scores to fairly play into the admissions decisions? Does the College Board’s vague solution compensate for that? It’s hard to tell at this point. The butterfly effect is in full gear, but hopefully the splash of this error won’t echo too far and the students’ scores will be just and treated justly.