Educators talk leveling the playing field, pressure of standardized tests in light of admissions scandal

Published: Mar. 13, 2019 at 6:51 PM EDT
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(03/13/19) - Those on the front lines of the education system see the college admissions scandal as a slap in the face in a system where leveling the playing field is already a difficult thing to do.



"To sit down for four and half hours takes a lot of prep, and for them to actually achieve the score they want to get in the higher level colleges, they need to have a 1010," said Hamady High School English Teacher Molly Rusk.

That is a 1010 out of a perfect score 1600 for the SAT. Rusk preps juniors daily for the SAT and ACT. Along with studying for standardized tests, some students are dually enrolled at Mott Communnity College.

School counselor Tiffany Pritchett says that preparation also takes them outside the classroom for college visits. A tutor also volunteers her time to help students with testing at the school.

"It's important that we create that college and career climate here so they understand the importance of what life is going to look like after high school," Pritchett said.

One of the biggest concerns she receives from students who are college-bound is about how they can afford it. That's why the college admissions scam, where wealthy parents allegedly paid bribes to get their children into top colleges, outraged her.

"Here our kids are struggling and doing what they need to do academically cause they may not have that financial means or the social-economic status to bribe somebody or get into school so that was pretty disturbing," Pritchett said.

Robert Slurzberg is a professional math tutor who specializes in standardized testing with clients all over the country. He was appalled as he learned more about the investigation.

"The fact that Jane got into school because Jane's parent paid money, paid somebody off, meant that John didn't get into the school because there's only X number of slots that we can have at the school. That's horrible," Slurzberg said.

He says the parents' alleged actions don't help anyone.

"That kid can't feel good. Can that kid feel good knowing that they're in school because mom and dad bribed somebody," Slurzberg said.

Rusk, who also leads Hamady's SAT/ACT prep course, outlined the disparities she's noticed when it comes to standardized testing as an educator of 10 years.

"It's all about data and unfortunately people who look at the data don't know the lives of our students don't know what's going on at home," Rusk said. "There are people who worked really hard to get where they are, and to have their spot taken by someone because they have money is just not, especially for our kids around here, that's just not always an option."