skip to main content skip to footer

Testing the Disadvantaged: The Test Developer's Point of View SAT

Coffman, William E.
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Memorandum
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
College Entrance Examinations, Culture Fair Tests, Disadvantaged, Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), Test Bias, Testing Problems


This paper addresses the accusation of cultural bias in standardized tests, especially the SATs, against students from disadvantaged backgrounds. It is noted that: 1) the introduction of objective tests of verbal and mathematical ability 40 years ago initially "was looked upon as a means of reducing cultural bias" and increasing access of disadvantaged groups to higher education; 2) over the years efforts have been made by test-makers to improve the culture-fairness of the SATs and College Board achievement tests; 3) recent studies show these tests have equal GPA-predictability for Black- and White-American students and for lower and upper SES students; 4) efforts must be made to enable those unable to perform satisfactorily on the SATs to get the education necessary to do so. It is suggested that this might be accomplished either by allotting extra time for these students to learn the material or by changing the ways in which the material is taught; and 5) several future studies to be done by ETS, the College Board, and several institutions of higher education may shed light on how test score information can be used to improve educational practices.

Read More