Predictive Validity of College Admissions Tests
One would think the future of America's youth is ensured by objective measures and time-tested procedures, but according to some, the decisions made by college admissions boards are anything but. Over a decade ago, fiery debates ignited over the validity of college admissions tests, such as the SAT and ACT, as a result of a disturbing trend of inequality in the test scores between students of different racial groups. The SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) is an aptitude test designed to predict students' future performance in college. It is administered to over 2 million high school students each year and two-thirds of colleges in the United States rely on it as part of the admissions process, however many opponents question its objectiveness (Allen, 2000). The vast difference of test scores between races created an explosive situation, but a close examination of trends shows these aptitude tests overall are accurate predictors of academic success regardless of race, but improvements are still needed.
In the late 1940s, standardized tests were introduced to postsecondary education as a way of expanding opportunity to academically qualified yet long shunned students of varying backgrounds. Some argue otherwise, but college entrance exams never attempted to favor Caucasians over any other groups. The creators of the test may have thought other races were genetically inferior to whites, but nevertheless, these tests were meant to increase opportunities for qualified students rather than to maintain the status quo of the economic elite. Looking at the results of these tests, it is obvious that the reliability is excellent, but unfortunately, aptitude tests are not as predictable as they are reliable.
One key aspect of all standardized tests is their predictive validity, or the extent to which a test measures what it is supposed to.