Fancypants private tutors who help America’s privileged rich kids get better SAT scores are whining that the May version of the college entrance exam contained a pair of “stereotype threats” against millions of female test takers.
Both the math portion and the verbal portion of the May 7, 2016 SAT featured the menace of “stereotype threats,” the tutors said, according to The New York Times.
Discovered only in 1995, “stereotype threats” occur when people are reminded of some negative racial or gender stereotype before or during a test. According to people who believe in “stereotype threats,” such reminders will cause a large, collective group of test takers to suffer anxiety and, thus, conform to that stereotype.
The “stereotype threat” in the math portion of the May SAT was a chart showing a high school math class with more boys enrolled that girls, alarmed tutors say.
The “stereotype threat” in the verbal portion came as a specific part of a reading passage suggesting that women should focus on domestic work. The overall passage had a two-part setup. The first part was a horribly condensed version of Catharine E. Beecher’s 1837 “Essay on Slavery and Abolitionism” — with all the references to God and Christianity removed. The second part was a response to Beecher by Angelina E. Grimké, an obscure abolitionist.
Tutors were aghast because the Educational Testing Service, the maker of the SAT, placed both “stereotype threat” questions near the beginning of their respective portions.
“I thought, ‘Wait a minute: This test is really trying women in a way that’s slightly different than it’s testing men,'” Sheila Akbar, a New York City-based tutor at test-prep company Signet Education, told the Times. “Here I am, a seasoned test taker — a 36-year-old woman — being distracted by this material. I wonder what 17-year-olds are thinking.”
Akbar is a Harvard University graduate who is putting her Ivy League degree to work by selling standardized test prep services to affluent people at an hourly rate.
New York University psychology professor Joshua Aronson — who, together with psychologist Claude Steele contrived the concept of “stereotype threats” — criticized the May SAT questions about a math class and reading passages from 1837.
“I’m not saying we should put everybody in a rubber room so they couldn’t possibly be touched by controversy,” Aronson told the Times. “But why would you go out of your way to couch a percentage problem as a girls-in-math problem?”
Aronson warned that girls who see a completely fictional chart about a completely fictional math class with more boys than girls could cause girls to suffer “cognitive fatigue” because they may not be able to let the trauma of seeing such a chart go.
“You could imagine one girl really ruminating on it, and she would pay for it down the road,” Aronson said.
A second tutor, Los Angeles-based Andrew McGlothlin, told the Times that SAT takers reading an 1837 essay arguing that women should raise children is the equivalent of “George Wallace being given equal voice to Thurgood Marshall.”
The College Board, the quasi-academic front group for the Education Testing Service, has defended its May 7, 2016 test by observing that boys and girls with the same basic end scores did no differently on either of the questions at issue.
“This means the questions did not present an unfair advantage to either group,” College Board spokeswoman Kate Welk told the Times.
The most recent data from the U.S. Department of Education shows that women outnumber men in America’s four-year colleges and universities by 55 percent to 45 percent.
The Educational Testing Service — an entity with $1.13 billion in revenue in 2013 — actually develops, publishes and scores every SAT.
For decades, the creators of the SAT had sworn that their test measured immutable intelligence and could not be coached. A lot of people still believe these claims — which is hilarious since the SAT has changed relentlessly since its inception in 1926 (and has offered its own coaching materials). (RELATED: A Nostalgic Trip Down Memory Lane With The SAT Before It Changes AGAIN)
Here is an unfortunate sample analogy question from the 1926 test: Epilepsy is to carpenter as stuttering is to: 1) tongue; 2) minister; 3) cure; 4) stammering; 5) fluttering.
In March 2014, the College Board announced that the strange rite of passage would be undergoing yet another massive overhaul, which hasn’t happened since early in George W. Bush’s second term. (RELATED: SAT Makers Announce Latest ‘New’ SAT, Insult Rival ACT In Desperate Bid To Stay Relevant)