Things That Matter

In-Person Courses Have Been Canceled As Well As Recreational Activities, Now Students Are Protesting To Cancel SAT Exams Due To Coronavirus

Virtually every sector of the U.S. economy has taken a hit in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. The education sphere is no exception.

According to a recent report by the Washington Post, “an estimated 1 million high school juniors are missing the chance this spring to get their first SAT score, and many others face uncertainty about when they can take the ACT.”

Widespread exam cancellations and postponements have left many students uncertain as to what they will do come application season when many universities and colleges require the test.

Now students are calling colleges and universities to call an end to the tests altogether.

#TestOptionalNOW is the new trending hashtag that students across the nation have created in response to the uncertainty the virus has caused the tests. The hashtag along with a petition by Student Voice.imploring universities to waive the standardized testing requirements for freshmen applicants in the fall of 2021.

But many students are asking for just a temporary suspension, not just during this time of uncertainty. After all, the standardized exams have for decades been scrutinized for the inaccurate measures of intelligence and success.

The college scandal of 2019 —thanks to Aunt Becky and her wealthy cohorts— is just a recent look at how privileged people can easily change the outcome of tests and admissions only by forking money over to do so. Academic-based bribery is hardly a new scheme in the admissions process and the ways in which the system has become intricately rigged to keep out minorities is only just beginning to gain exposure. Minorities and low-income people are marginalized when it comes to admissions, test scores, and the workplace — it’s a system that continuously unbalances society.

When it comes to the SATs, an assessment test meant to categorize students solely on academic merit, this truth is no different.

The original intention behind the Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) is to show where a student stands among their peers, to indicate what their next educational move should be.

The SATs date back to the mid-1920s.

Carl C. Brigham, a psychology professor at Princeton University whose early writings strongly influenced the eugenics movement and anti-immigration legislation in the United States, created the SAT for College Board in 1926. Brigham proposed and produced the test after make observations that he said proved “American education is declining and will proceed with an accelerating rate as the racial mixture becomes more and more extensive.”

According to PBS, the College Board “puts him in charge of a committee to develop a test that could be used by a wider group of schools.” And “In 1926 the SAT is administered to high school students for the first time.”

However, the wording as to why students had to take the SATs in the first place is marred with racial discrimination.

The SATs came during an immigration wave, and college boards and universities wanted to define who would be allowed in. The test doesn’t necessarily attest to who is smarter but more extensive information about the student, their race, and economic background. And yet, college admissions board do not consider this a factor in their admissions process. Proving that in a deeply flawed and unequal educational system, where segregation is still alive and well, colleges and education systems continue to fail students of color and those who are not. After all, research has shown that diversity in school’s only further benefits students, particularly in fields that are related to critical thinking and problem-solving.

The truth is that high-stakes standardized tests work in ways that reinforce racist and discriminatory systems of old. Continuing to accept notions that standardize tests are merit-based only perpetuate the race and class gaps reflected in their results.

Now the SATs will include an “adversity rating” that will allow colleges to know the school that a student came from to evaluate them in a more fair way.

The rating — 1 to 100 — would help the college board (who own the SATs) understand a student’s quality of education based on the neighborhood, the school’s economic standing, and other relevant information. So, if a student doesn’t do very well on the SATs, the rating would reveal as to the hardships that student endured. The rating does not include information about their race, but more so the economic struggles.

Some people feel that the “adversity rating” is something people could take advantage of by lying about where they live.

For example, if a parent knows that their child may not do well on the SATs they could lie about where they live to get a better adversity rating. This would help them achieve a better score.

“The idea that ‘this is a great SAT score for someone from your neighborhood, for someone of your background’ — it’s not fair to the students,” Venkates Swaminathan, a college admissions consultant told The Washington Post.

Others say the “adversity rating” will be a significant boost to go alongside affirmative action.

“Merit is all about resourcefulness,” David Coleman, chief executive of the College Board, said to the New York Times. “This is about finding young people who do a great deal with what they’ve been given. It helps colleges see students who may not have scored as high, but when you look at the environment that they have emerged from, it is amazing.”

A Florida Teen Has Overcome Immense Obstacles, Including Homelessness, To Become His School’s Valedictorian

Things That Matter

A Florida Teen Has Overcome Immense Obstacles, Including Homelessness, To Become His School’s Valedictorian

Martin Folsom / Facebook

Right now we are in the midst of so much change. There is so much going on in the world – from a global pandemic that has left millions of us in social isolation to a brand new social justice movement in the wake of murder of unarmed Black men.

We’re being bombarded with so much serious news, it’s hard to remember that there are still people out there leading powerful, incredible lives and making a difference.

One Florida teen has overcome all the odds, including years of homeless, to graduate from his high school as valedictorian and we need to celebrate and recognize this huge accomplishment.

Martin Folsom graduated at the top of his class after struggling through years of homelessness.

Since he was a child, Martin Folsom and his mother Melva have been in and out of homelessness, according to Jacksonville television station WJXT.

Despite all the challenges he faced through the years, Folsom managed to keep his focus on his studies — and his efforts paid off when he was named his class’ valedictorian and graduated from Philip Randolph Career Academy in Jacksonville, FL.

“It kind of gave me a jolt in my chest a little bit, so it was a good feeling,” Folsom said in a video interview shared by KTRK. “It means a lot and it gives me a sense of all I’ve done and all I have accomplished was worth it.”

After college – Martin plans to attend Valdosta State University – he hopes to one day work for the FBI.

Martin credits his mom’s dedication and compassion for helping him succeed.

During his time in high school, Martin’s mom recalled desperately searching for a place to live with her son.

“Martin and I were in downtown McDonald’s and literally had nowhere to go,” she shared with WJXT. “I was on the phone calling people, calling organizations, and by the grace of God, we got into a shelter that day.”

Even with an uncertain living situation, Martin didn’t let that affect his studies.

“I never thought to myself, ‘I can’t do this anymore’ or ‘I’m done with this,'” explained the teen, who served as class president from freshman year through senior year. “It’s always been, ‘Well, it happened again and I’ve gotta keep myself up and keep moving forward.'”

He was set to walk across the stage last week for graduation, but that was canceled due to the pandemic.

Still, he isn’t letting that damper his spirits — especially since Martin had to overcome hurdle after hurdle to earn the high honor. He and his mom have struggled with homelessness since he was a kid, and throughout his four years of high school. They became homeless while fleeing Melva’s ex-husband, who has since been sentenced to 40 years in prison for murder.

Within two years, the mother and son reportedly lived in different shelters across five states before setting in Jacksonville.

“It’s been a rocky road, been a lot of hardships, but seeing myself here right now, about to graduate and go to college, it feels good knowing that all the stuff I’ve done, it was worth it,” Martin said.

He served as the class president for his grade for four years straight, from 9th grade to 12th grade. Now he will go on to college in the fall — and says that will be a big day for his family.

“As far as I know I’m the first person in my family to actually get a college degree,” he said.

MIT Just Announced Their First Black Woman Student Body President

Things That Matter

MIT Just Announced Their First Black Woman Student Body President

@OnlyInBOS / twitter

As a Massachusetts Institute of Technology undergrad, Danielle Geathers has already accomplished so much. And yet, recently she accomplished a feat that is making history. When the college student returns back to her classes at MIT this fall, she will be the first in the school’s 159- year history to do so as a Black female student body president.

Geathers, who is 22 years old, was recently elected by her student body as the president of the Undergraduate Association.

She will take up the torch as president alongside her running mate Yu Jing Chen. Speaking to MIT’s student newspaper The Tech, Geathers explained that it “didn’t surprise me that no black women had been president… Someone asked if the UA president was a figurehead role [during the debate]. I think no, but minimally, a black female in that role will squash every perception that MIT is still mostly white and male… Minimally, the immediate image of that will make MIT a more welcoming and inclusive place.”

Geathers, who is a major in mechanical engineering with a concentration in product design is also working on a minor in African and American diaspora studies.

Last year, Geathers served as the United Association’s diversity officer. Speaking about her initial efforts to run for president, Geathers said that she felt quite a bit of doubt and uncertainty about running. “Who am I to be president?” Geathers told The Tech about her mindset at the time. Fortunately, Geathers decided to run, “I talked to a couple of people who said, ‘That is the problem with America.’ People who care about equity never want to run for the main role because they think they’re not for it.”

Speaking about why her race and the one of her running mate had an important role in her campaign, Geathers said “We try to ignore the communities that people are from, but that’s what’s gonna make them good.”

It’s important to note that 6% of MIT’s undergraduate students are Black, and only 47% are women.