By Megan Stookey
Every senior at my school has to deliver and defend a senior thesis at the end of the year. One of my students undertook the task of proposing changes to the SAT and ACT in order to more properly assess a student’s college-readiness. One of the phases of the thesis process was explaining the biblical/theological implications of their topic. I’ll be giving a talk on math assessments from a Christian perspective in a few days, so I thought it would be appropriate to share (with permission of course) Megan’s work below.
The SAT’s purpose is to measure developed reasoning, specific mental gift of each student; but who is the College Board to decide which gift or talent is more beneficial to college success? God distributes his gifts differently within his plan for humanity; therefore no gift may be considered more beneficial than another. The SAT, however, has been designed to discriminate between gifts by negating such talents as creativity, rhetoric, language, and organization; it merely focuses on the gift it calls “developed reasoning”. 1 Corinthians 12:4-6 states “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work”. In the Lord’s eyes all of his gifts are necessary for the success of his kingdom, however, in our culture that has grown increasingly more secular, certain gifts have been credited to benefit society more than others.
This secular perspective influenced the institution of the SAT, which as previously stated, focuses on measuring the gift of reasoning. The problem with this design is that it highlights a single gift that constitutes only a portion of the population, and fails to acknowledge other gifts that are equally beneficial to society. If everyone did well on the SAT and had reasoning skills but no other gifts modern society could not function. A successful society is a diverse society, that is the way God intended it. He distributed different gifts because they are together, all necessary for the furthering of the kingdom of heaven; the kingdom needs prophets, and teachers, and miracle workers, and organizers without which the goodness of the Lord would be barred from certain sections of society. Romans 12:3-11 states, “For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.” God does not discriminate between the arms and the legs of his body, he created them each to serve a specific function in his kingdom. As a society we need the people the SAT deem will be less successful because they do not think the same way. For example, without creative people where would art come from? Where would progress come from? Each member of the body forms a specific function, to choose a specific portion to value above the others inhibits the whole body from success.
The SAT needs to account for more than one mental gift; it needs to alter in such a way that it measures a wide range of gifts. Even if one or two are not accounted for at least a more diverse group of students will be considered successful. The idea that a test can be made to measure a cognitive skill that supposedly everyone should develop, is blind to the vast number of different gifted people that allow society to progress. It not only puts down those who do not “measure up”, but it limits the opportunities of people who are necessary for society to function and have been marked to probably be unsuccessful. God does not discriminate between his children; he loves them all no matter if they are a prophet, a servant, a teacher, or an organizer. We are all loved equally, and the SAT needs to take the wide range of God given gifts into account if it wants to produce not only a successful society, but a functional society.