Thursday, August 26, 2021

Ditch the SAT — Permanently

On the site Politico a good point is made in an opinion post by SHERYLL CASHIN.  Bear with me and I will explain my brush with the SAT many years ago. Here is the lead for the opinion piece:

Colleges today face relentless legal challenges to affirmative action, pressuring them to keep refining policies to achieve diversity, equity, and inclusion on their campuses. The norm-shattering Covid-19 pandemic did something unexpected: It turned higher education, for a year or more, into a national experiment in admissions reform.

Its conclusion: Still, for all the immensely challenging disruptions the Covid pandemic brought to American education, colleges’ decreased dependence on standardized test scores offers a glimmer of hope for a fairer, more inclusive system. Now it is up to schools to accelerate this progress, rather than returning to the old norms of exclusion.

 Read the whole post...


Over 50 years ago I took the SAT and to say my scores were abysmal, would be complimentary. With my scores, I was going to be fortunate to get accepted for a job at the car wash. Gratefully, several teachers in high school saw a bright light that I had not come to discern yet. 

Dyslexia was not my friend and this was in a time that I did not know that this learning complication had a name. Understanding dyslexia with its linguistic demands, plus accepting being transgender, came much later in life. 

Please note that I do not call dyslexia a learning disability; many do - I refuse.  It is a complication that can be worked with but never completely overcome. Workarounds abound and in many ways it enhances other areas of performance. I highly recommend the book "The Gift of Dyslexia".  Coincidentally, many of the world's great minds and innovators are and have been dyslexic. 

From the Learning Disabilities Foundation:
Sir Richard Branson is an extraordinary individual who has dyslexia.  As a dyslexic individual, his life story is empowering and awe-inspiring. Sir Richard Branson was a high school dropout at the age of 15. He went on to become a world-renowned billionaire investor, business magnate, author and philanthropist."

Dyslexia, as I describe it, is like being "word-blind". Just a color-blind person cannot distinguish color differentials, a dyslexic person sees the word they are thinking and not necessarily the word they have written. Although spell checkers are a lifeline, the wrong word, spelled correctly, can go uncaught.     

I am ever so thankful for the teaches that saw me as more than a spelling challenged student. Papers returned many times looked like someone had bled-out with all the red marks. One teacher went to bat for me with his former college roommate, at the time Dean of an Engineering School. My teacher asked that I be given a chance. My high school principal also wrote a letter of recommendation and stated that I was more than a SAT score.  Also, my state win in a creative electronics project helped.  

The issue is: Whenever you put a dyslexic person under pressure (timed test), reading mistakes happen. My oldest daughter who has about the same level of dyslexia, got into college with a sports scholarship. We had similar SAT scores. To her credit, while in college, she formed a dyslexic support group and lobbied for untimed tests. I am so proud of her.  

It is good to see colleges and universities are considering that a person is more than a test score. Diversity matters - The whole-person approach is so much better.  


  1. Dyslexia, like transgender, is really an umbrella term. Dyslexia manifests itself in different forms, just as with gender identity. My wife, of 49 years, has had to deal with her dyslexia her whole life, just as I have had to deal with my gender *identity* (I don't really care for that term). She had to suffer being called stupid by teachers just because she couldn't see things the way the teacher was teaching. I have been referred to as all sorts of terrible things just because I see myself as a woman, and that doesn't fit the norm. One of the reasons my wife has stuck with me for so long is that she has an understanding of how brains can be "wired differently." When I told her, once, that I saw something completely different when I looked in the mirror, she could relate, because she would look at a page in a book and see the incongruity. She's an avid reader these days, and she's worked out whatever incongruencies she might see. She can't explain what she does, or how she does it, but it works for her. In the same way, I have managed to live my life now as the woman I was born to be - without the need to explain myself to anyone else, especially to myself. And, that works for me.

    I applaud you, Rhonda, for your success in dealing with both dyslexia and gender incongruence. It seems like it would be a double-whammy, but it may also be that dealing with one helped in dealing with the other. Of course, I don't mean to try to explain anything for you; no explanation is necessary, anyway. As you say, "I love a success story."

  2. Hi Connie,

    What an encouraging comment. We all deal with our differences. What an interesting way to explain what you see/feel to someone that would understand it so well.

    Thanks Connie .