Assessing Our StudentsThe 2001 College Scholastic Ability Test is over, but it has left us feelings of dissatisfaction. Many people are saying it was too easy and will, therefore, make it difficult to properly assess the students who took it. With a broadly revamped college-entrance system going into effect next year, many students and their parents are nervous because they don''t know where they stand.
One major complaint is that even some students who got more than 360 questions out of 400 right, for a score of 90 or higher, will have trouble getting into their school of choice.
The validity of the test score as a true assessment of ability was further reduced by the fact that the easiest parts of the test were allotted the most points. The 30 questions devoted to the second, elective foreign language (Chinese, French etc.) were so easy that they can hardly be regarded as a test at all.
It is said that the test was made easier in order to reduce the need for parents to spend money on private lessons, but the trend for sending students to private institutes shows no signs of abating.
Next year the problem may get even worse. Along with CSAT scores, high school grades will be an important factor in determining an applicant''s qualifications for admission to college, but considerably more weight will be given to assessments of a student''s performance in high school than to the CSAT, and this has many parents worried.
They doubt that teachers can be absolutely fair and impartial in assessing students and want to know exactly what materials will be used and how they will be used in grading their children.
It is said that currently in second-year high school classes it is impossible to tell the better students from poorer ones because so many tests have been given just to raise the overall level of grades.
We urgently need to develop a system that avoids the problems of artificially inflated grades and biased assessments and provides accurate and fair assessment of a student''s potential.