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[Susan notes: Champion letter writer Walt Gardner scores again.]

Published in

To the editor

The real story about the SAT is neither the $960 million test-prep market it has engendered nor the $388 million in revenues it has generated for its parent, the College Board, but its uncanny ability to convince colleges, parents and students that the test has predictive value ("To Tackle New SAT, Perhaps You Need a New Study Device," page one, March 8). The most compelling empirical evidence in this regard flatly contradicts the College Board's persistent claims.

In October 2004, Bates College, a selective liberal arts institution in Lewiston, Maine, released the findings of its 20-year study of its milestone policy making submission of SAT scores optional. Bates found no differences in the four-year academic performance and graduation rates of 7,000 submitters and non-submitters. Moreover, Bates's policy resulted in an increase in the number of minorities, women and low-income students applying in the same period.

Despite the growing body of evidence questioning the justification for use of the SAT, its hold on the collective consciousness remains firm. This is the result of a masterful public relations campaign that most colleges and universities have been disingenuously complicit in reinforcing because they pay nothing for receiving SAT scores.

(Mr. Gardner taught for 28 years in the Los Angeles Unified School District.)

Walt Gardner

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