Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Dumbing down?

A recent announcement told us that revisions to the SAT were underway. One was the omission of certain words that were not used in college or career atmospheres. However, a study guide includes such words as: phlegmatic, punctilious, and occlusion, which are slated to disappear from the tests. The SAT is published by a for-profit company. Lately, it has been losing ground to a rival test, the ACT. I can perfectly well understand why the publisher needs to make changes if it is to continue to sell its product to educational establishments. However, the SAT results are not simply pass/fail tests: the totals give some guidance for the educational establishment purchasing the service. There is another reason why I wish this change were not being made. A secondary purpose of the testing is to encourage students to make use of a wider vocabulary, not just to make use of less common words, such as those listed above, but also to help them understand such words in printed form, whether in books for study or books for personal enrichment.

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