By Caleb Keith –
This year upperclassmen at high schools around the country will partake in a new round of SAT testing. The major difference from previous iterations is an emphasis on reading comprehension. Students will be facing a more thorough integration of moderately advanced language including words like anthropology, Madagascar, and femur. Use of proper language is the binding feature of the high school disciplines. The intention of the new test is to reveal what students are truly learning in high school through further integration of critical language processing. With the hyperinflation of college attendance, you would think most people would be pleased to see the entrance process going through refinement. Well, you would be wrong! In fact, the new exam has been condemned by many as unfair and even racist.
The antagonists of the new test claim that a focus on reading compression victimizes the poor who do not have access to reading material and ethnic groups who are not familiar with the style of formal diction used on the test. I am often opposed to standardized testing, not because it is exclusive or racist, but simply because it often fails at determining what a student has learned. Instead, the student who succeeds at the SAT is the student who adopts the right formula or strategy. I have begrudgingly come to realize the fact that standardized testing isn’t disappearing anytime soon, which means any improvements toward testing knowledge rather than strategy is something I am pleased with.
The SAT doesn’t apply to me anymore as I’ve already made it over that hurdle, and it will be a long time until my children will face whatever form of testing will exist when they contemplate higher education. However, the response to the new SAT reveals a grave problem in the way the general public and educators view higher education. We live in a state that aggressively asserts that all people are entitled to a college education and any barrier to such an education, even one which determines a person’s ability to complete higher-ed, work is unethical. This mindset damages the value of a college education and discriminates and degrades those who find fulfillment outside of a college degree.
In the face of such cultural oppression Christians are in a unique position. Scripture tells us that God calls individuals to certain roles or occupations: often referred to as vocations. We see especially in Paul that God gives all people natural gifts and talents which may differ significantly from one another. Despite these differences, each person’s work is given immense value and purpose through the calling of God. A person’s value is not in their level of education but is rooted in the righteous action of God. As a community, Christians have a lot to gain by emphasizing callings among their neighbors, and I believe especially to children and youth. The SAT is a test that searches for particular skill sets or gifts. If a high schooler is lacking in such categories, offer them comfort and hope in the skills which God has given them. For with God’s gifting and calling, there is purpose in every station of life. This revelation is rooted in the freedom of the Gospel through which God calls all sinners to Christ. In vocation, we see once again that life is not about what we do but about what God does for us. Thanks be to God for His calling purpose into the lives of sinners even in the light of crappy standardized tests.