Sunday, July 14, 2002

"540 math, 620 verbal, helped by monkey" Send this entry to: Spurl Ma.gnolia Digg Newsvine Reddit

"540 math, 620 verbal, helped by monkey" When I took the LSAT, there was some sort of paragraph-long loyalty oath at the end that had to be written in cursive ("DO NOT PRINT!") and signed. Since I stopped using cursive the day they stopped requiring me to (7th grade, I think), my oath was nearly illegible. I always thought of it as "bad handwriting," but it turns out it's a disability -- dysgraphia. I never would have known, except for this NYT article on the SAT's new disability policy. Previously, if you were disabled and needed extra time, or a helper monkey, or to be told the answers, you got a little red flag on your score report: "540 math, 620 verbal, helped by monkey." Thanks to a lawsuit (I assume under the ADA, though the article doesn't say), the GRE and GMAT had to remove the flags, and the SAT soon followed suit. With the removal of the "this kid took 6 hours" flag, expect the ranks of "the disabled" "people with disabilities" to swell. Guidance counselor Brad MacGowan worries,
"[I]t's that flag, that asterisk, that helps cut down on abuse. This will open the floodgates to families that think they can beat the system by buying a diagnosis, and getting their kid extra time."
Robert Schaeffer, the public education director of FairTest (an anti-SAT group) adds,
"And it's further complicated by the fact that the SAT is introducing a new writing component, so I'm already getting strings of e-mails from guidance counselors who expect a big surge of accommodation requests from kids who have bad handwriting, dysgraphia."
My inner conspiracy theorist wonders whether this is just one more step towards eliminating the tests altogether.