A reaction to "Jumping Through Hoops," Commentary, Jan. 15:
From the ivory towers of Pepperdine University come the erudite words of Russell Gough. His premise is that the SAT test, when used by the NCAA for college admission, discriminates against minorities. The case in point: One of two black high school students that filed a class-action suit against the NCAA is a 2 1/2-year honor student. As a teacher, to me this means he has earned at least a B average for 2 1/2 years. Yet he scored less than 700 points out of 1600 on the SAT.
The SAT can be taken in its preliminary form as the PSAT, once per year. The SAT can be taken several times per year. When students simply put their name on the test, they have earned between 400-500 points. And this 18-year-old couldn't break 700? How was this youngster an "honor" student for 2 1/2 years? What did the "four years of hard work and verifiable achievement" accomplish?
College is not for everyone. Simply because you are a good athlete and good citizen does not create automatic college acceptance. You earn your way there by developing grades and knowledge. This student achieved only one of these.
Any teacher can give an A. One of the purposes of such a standardized test as this is to weed out the inflated grades. Perhaps most of the investigative and legal energy being expended on this issue could be better focused on those "honor" classes offered at that Philadelphia high school.
* My heart goes out to Tai Kwan Cureton. However, I am not sure that Gough has identified the true failing in this case. The real question here is how could Cureton have achieved the lofty academic goals stated and yet had such difficulty with the SAT at a level of 700?
While I am not an expert at SAT evaluation or design it seems reasonable that his high school curriculum should have prepared him to achieve at this level in light of his goals. Perhaps Cureton's curriculum wasn't designed for an athlete with a college career in mind.