Should Your Child Take the New Baby SAT?

Last Updated Apr 21, 2011 3:54 PM EDT

Have you ever heard anybody make this argument: what this country needs is more standardized testing Black and white closeup of unhapppy babyfor college-bound children?

Probably not, but that hasn't discouraged the SAT test mavens at the College Board from rolling out a baby SAT for middle schoolers.

You could call it a pre-pre-pre-SAT. That's the term that a senior vice president at the College Board used once when denying that the exam is simply a premature SAT test. Perhaps we should just call this test another way for the College Board to make a ton of money.

I naively thought the College Board had been shamed into mothballing this new test for eighth graders two years ago when it announced the launch delay of the exam called ReadiStep. I wrote about this development on my other college blog: A Baby SAT Bites the Dust.

Fish Tale?

What is the College Board saying, at least in public, about why it needs to inflict college testing on even younger students? According to a recent story in The New York Times, the College Board says there has been a "clamoring of school districts" that want an early heads up on how students will do in college prep work and on college entrance tests.

Sounds awfully fishy to me. Especially since students are already inundated with tests, including those mandated by the federal No Child Left Behind and the PSAT, which is the College Board's pre-SAT. What's more, school districts must pay the College Board $8 per student for the baby SAT. Ka-ching.

Does the Test Deliver?

Critics say that the test doesn't even deliver what it promises. At least that's the opinion of W. James Popham, a renowned professor emeritus of education at UCLA, who has reviewed the ReadiStep test. "It's just as deceptive as can be," he told The New York Times. It conveys the notion that your child has these strengths and weaknesses, when there is no way to tell."

Don't tell that to the more than a quarter million eighth graders, mostly in Texas, who have already taken the test.

Bottom Line:

Here's my advice to school districts: boycott this test. If the College Board succeeds in testing middle schoolers, be prepared for grade schoolers to be its next target.

Lynn O'Shaughnessy is author of The College Solution, an Amazon bestseller, and she also writes her own college blog at The College Solution.
Baby SAT image by Lawrence Whittemore. CC 2.0.

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