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Strong opinions, weakly held

The trouble with college admissions exams

The New York Times has an op-ed on standardized tests that’s worth reading. Even as college administrators recognize that standardized test scores are an imperfect measure of the quality of college applicants, all of their incentives are tilted toward placing greater weight on test scores:

Consider the admissions director at our hypothetical college. He knows that college ranking systems take SAT’s and ACT’s into account. He knows that bond-rating companies look at the same scores when judging a college’s credit worthiness. And in lean times like these, he would be especially eager for a share of the so-called merit scholarship money that state legislators give students who test well.

It reminded me of a point Matthew Yglesias made with regard to the financial markets today:

Ever since the crash, there’s been a lot of self-serving talk from people in the business about how nobody could have foreseen this. That’s wrong. What would be more accurate — and more disturbing — is that it’s not clear that it actually would have been smart for people in the business to have behaved in a radically different manner even if they had understood the situation well. There are a lot of fields of endeavor where it’s more important to be in tune with the CW than it is to actually be correct, and this seems to me to mostly be one of them.

1 Comment

  1. I dunno — I think the high-flyers would like y0u to believe that. but I suspect that people who actually research firms and invest in companies with good business plans and/or promising products do well over the long term, while those who “play the market” as a gambling analysis, CW game do dramatically well and dramatically poorly in turns. call me crazy…

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