Time to replace the SAT

In "Dump the SAT?" (Nov. 2), The Princeton Review is accused of creating cynicism about the SAT, and telling kids that ETS (the author of the test) is evil. What should be mentioned, though, is that we're right.

The SAT is biased against women and blacks, and has an almost straight-line correlation to family income. That's why ETS is testing its "strivers" formulas.

The SAT does not measure intelligence. Five years ago the College Board finally agreed the Scholastic Aptitude Test did not measure aptitude at all, and changed its name. "SAT" no longer stands for anything.

The SAT does not predict college grades, or measure high school performance, as statistics show.

The SAT is extremely coachable. After years of calling test prep a fraud, the new head of the College Board declared recently, "Anybody who prepares is going to do better than somebody who doesn't prepare," and announced a for-profit test prep division.

What makes ETS evil is their treatment of kids who are accused of cheating, or whose answer sheets they shred or lose. You could not name a worse provider of customer service in the US, or entrust them with a more vulnerable group of clients at a more critical and stressful moment in their lives.

This test exists only because everyone remembers his or her own SAT scores, and the public ritual of the testing experience. The Princeton Review prepares students for lots of tests, none of which are as lame as the SAT. After years of prodding, litigating, and lobbying against the SAT, we look forward to helping students prepare for its replacement.

John Katzman New York President, The Princeton Review

Liberal dusk or dawn?

As a New Yorker who grew up in the era of LaGuardia, Lehman, and Roosevelt, I am appalled by a media mentality that would describe the fall from power of Willie Brown, David Dinkins, and Marion Barry with a headline "A last hurrah for urban liberals?" (Nov. 1).

These men are as "liberal" as Boss Tweed, master of Tammany Hall. Cronyism, favors for big contributors, and a blind eye to corruption are not what liberalism is, or ever was, about.

It is a measure of the jadedness, cynicism, ignorance, and ennui of this generation of journalists that such men are routinely so described by the media.

Liberalism, which has in the past animated both major parties, is about elevating the human spirit, about vision (remember?), about the right of every human being to dream great dreams; about the obligation - and mission - of government to foster these goals.

Elia Larocca Fresno, Calif.

Rethinking US diplomacy

China's Sha Zukang made comments in a recent interview that should be unsettling to Americans ("US a threat? Just ask China," Oct. 28).

We assume ourselves to be a caring and benevolent world power. But military superiority, and a conviction that we are always in the right, have too often enticed us to taking unilateral disciplinary adventures to teach bad foreigners a lesson.

These are embarrassing to our international friends who consider such actions bullying, childish, and hurtful to innocent "collaterals."

Are we that naive that we can expect full praise in world opinion for such adventures? Or do we do these things purely for self satisfaction? We need to improve our manners if we want the United States to be a respected member of the world community.

Alan Dean Swannanoa, N.C.

The Monitor welcomes your letters and opinion articles. Due to the volume of mail, we can neither acknowledge nor return unpublished submissions. All submissions are subject to editing. Letters must be signed and include your mailing address and telephone number.

Mail letters to "Readers Write," and opinion articles to Opinion Page, One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, or fax to 617-450-2317, or e-mail to

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

of 5 stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read 5 of 5 free stories

Only $1 for your first month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.