Lani Guinier: We Have a “Testocracy” Pretending to be a Meritocracy

Great new insights from Lani Guinier on the tyranny of testing.

Diane Ravitch's blog

In this excerpt from her recent book, The Tyranny of the Meritocracy, Lani Guinier describes the tight linkage between standardized testing and family income. To the extent, then, that colleges rely on the SAT (or ACT) as a filter for college admission, they disproportionately screen out students who have not had the multiple advantages of living in affluence.

She cites data demonstrating that the SAT is of little value in predicting college performance, yet it effectively excludes students of color and students who are from low-income families.

She writes:

Close to eight hundred colleges have decreased or eliminated reliance on high-stakes tests as the way to rank and sort students. In the current environment, however, moving away from merit by the numbers takes guts. The testing and ranking diehards, intent on maintaining their gate-keeping role, hold back and even penalize administrators who take such measures. The presidents of both Reed…

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