To the editor: If the SAT and ACT were dropped as college entrance requirements, as lawsuits against the University of California system seek to do, there would still be a need for applicants to take a standardized test and not gain admission solely on the basis of their grades, which can vary according to the standards of different schools.
Standardized tests that cover material learned in the classroom have long existed. When I took them they were called achievement tests, and they were given after lunch at the same site and the same day as the SAT. They were geared toward testing actual classroom knowledge, not inherent aptitude or anything else that could have been helped with special preparation.
From what I read in this article, research suggests that something like an achievement exam can more accurately predict college performance than the SAT. Why not use it as the yardstick?
Bill Seckler, Riverside
To the editor: Whenever you cover the fight over using the SAT and ACT in college admissions, you should mention that prior to the widespread adoption of standardized testing, students were admitted to the best universities based on what their last names were or which prep schools they attended.
The SAT ushered in the concept of merit-based admissions. It allowed the bright students from lower echelons of our society to go to the best schools.
Today, parents can spend a lot of money to help their kids prepare for the exam, but any SAT or ACT replacement would eventually have the same problem.
The answer is to improve our public schools and give every kid a chance to work hard and get ahead. Furthermore, it would help if students spent more time in school, and if principles could fire poor teachers regardless of tenure. Who advocates for the children?
Scott Zambon, Cowan Heights, Calif.