The alleged “anti-racists” in education have tried to convince the broader public that merit-based admissions, standardized tests, and even grades are racist.

Imagine That: MIT Reinstates Use Of “Instruments Of Racism” – The SAT And ACT

The alleged “anti-racists” in education have tried to convince the broader public that merit-based admissions, standardized tests, and even grades are racist.

Last May, for example, the National Education Association, one of the nation’s largest teachers’ unions, noted, “Since their inception a century ago, standardized tests have been instruments of racism and a biased system.”

But one of America’s elite, left-wing institutions of higher learning is swimming against the progressive tide of bad ideas.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology announced recently that it was reinstating those supposed tools of white supremacy known as the SAT and the ACT as part of the admissions process for the class of 2027.

“At MIT Admissions, our mission is to recruit, select, and enroll a diverse and talented group of students who are a good match for MIT’s unique education and culture. Everything we do in our process is grounded by our goal to find and admit students who will succeed at MIT and serve the world afterward,” Stu Schmill, MIT’s dean of admissions, wrote in a university blog post.

“After careful consideration, we have decided to reinstate our SAT/ACT requirement for future admissions cycles. Our research shows standardized tests help us better assess the academic preparedness of all applicants, and also help us identify socioeconomically disadvantaged students who lack access to advanced coursework or other enrichment opportunities that would otherwise demonstrate their readiness for MIT. We believe a requirement is more equitable and transparent than a test-optional policy.”

Schmill noted that MIT initially suspended its testing requirement because of “disruptions” caused by COVID-19.

At that time, he added, MIT was torn over the decision to stop testing. Although MIT didn’t “value scores for their own sake,” the test results did consistently reveal that “performance on the SAT/ACT, particularly the math section, substantially improves the predictive validity of our decisions with respect to subsequent student success at the Institute.”

MIT’s own research indicated that standardized testing — again especially in math — “significantly improved our ability to accurately predict student academic success at MIT,” Schmill wrote.

“Not having SATs/ACT scores to consider tends to raise socioeconomic barriers to demonstrating readiness for our education, relative to having them, given these other inequalities.”

“Our research can’t explain why these tests are so predictive of academic preparedness for MIT, but we believe it is likely related to the centrality of mathematics — and mathematics examinations — in our education. All MIT students, regardless of intended major, must pass two semesters of calculus, plus two semesters of calculus-based physics, as part of our General Institute Requirements.”

“In other words, there is no path through MIT that does not rest on a rigorous foundation in mathematics, and we need to be sure our students are ready for that as soon as they arrive,” the dean added.

“To be clear,” Schmill pointed out, performance on standardized tests “is not the central focus of our holistic admissions process.” MIT does not prefer people with perfect scores, or consider an applicant’s scores “at all” beyond what’s needed to gauge preparedness.

Still, MIT does consider the scores to “feel more confident about an applicant’s preparedness, to not just to survive, but thrive, at MIT,” Schmill wrote.

In fact, he argued standardized tests counter the dominant liberal narrative.

“Standardized tests also help us identify academically prepared, socioeconomically disadvantaged students who could not otherwise demonstrate readiness⁠ because they do not attend schools that offer advanced coursework, cannot afford expensive enrichment opportunities, cannot expect lengthy letters of recommendation from their overburdened teachers, or are otherwise hampered by educational inequalities,” the dean wrote.

“By using the tests as a tool⁠ in the service of our mission, we have helped improve the diversity of our undergraduate population, while student academic outcomes at MIT have gotten better, too; our strategic and purposeful use of testing has been crucial to doing both simultaneously.”

“Given the crucial role these tests play in our process, we have — after careful consideration within our office, and with the unanimous support of our student-faculty advisory committee — decided to reinstate our SAT/ACT requirement for the foreseeable future,” Schmill continued. “So, if you are applying to MIT in the future, we will normally expect you to submit an SAT or ACT score.”

“I understand that this announcement may dismay some readers for whom the tests can be a source of stress,” or lead some applicants and their parents conclude that mandating the tests “can make it feel like we only care about a number, and not the person behind it,” Schmill said.

“To those of you who feel this way I say: you are not your test scores, and for that matter, you are also not your MIT application, either. You are infinitely more than either of these narrow constructs could ever capture.”

Instead, he added, “When we talk about evaluating academic readiness for MIT, that doesn’t mean we are measuring your academic potential, or intrinsic worth as a human. It only means that we are confident you, at this specific moment in your educational trajectory, can do well in the kind of hard math and science tests demanded by our unusual education.”

“Every year, we turn down many outstanding applicants — people we think are truly awesome — who go on to thrive elsewhere,” Schmill noted. “Remember: your MIT decision is never about us passing judgment on you as a person, just about us contingently selecting a particular team of people, at a particular point in time, to take on the challenge of MIT, together.”

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