One College Applicant Puts Her Testing Gripes on Video

Allie Kauffmann is a high-school senior who dislikes standardized tests. Sam Kauffmann is a filmmaker who thinks the world of Allie, his daughter. These conditions inspired the following video, a nine-minute gripe about standardized tests and their role in college admissions.

Now, before you jump to conclusions about Allie’s SAT scores, they were “really good,” says Mr. Kauffmann, a film professor at Boston University. But first Allie had received a not-so-great score on the PSAT, which prompted the family to spend about $800 on a test-preparation course. That her score improved by 300 points only convinced Allie of the inequity of the whole system.

“What if you don’t have the money? Too bad,” Allie says in the film. “You’re competing against kids who do. It’s like playing basketball against kids on ladders.” (For a visual, fast-forward to 2:51.)

FairTest, a testing watchdog group that often barks at the College Board, worked closely with the Kauffmanns on the film, but did not have any artistic control, says Robert A. Schaeffer, the group’s public education director. (Mr. Kauffmann says he covered the small cost of the project.) The video echoes many of FairTest’s concerns, especially those about coaching.

Mr. Kauffmann says he and his daughter hope the film will convince students and parents that admissions entrance exams are “unfair, biased, and illogical.” To that end, the Kauffmanns have started an online petition urging colleges to stop using the ACT and SAT. They seek 10,000 signatures (as of Wednesday evening, there were 206), and plan to submit the final document to the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers. (The association has about as much power to alter its members’ testing policies as it does to melt all that snow in the Midwest, but never mind.)

Mr. Kauffmann says some of his daughter’s friends have declined to sign the petition for fear that they might harm their chances of getting into college. But Allie’s not exactly bashful: According to her father, she included links to the video in each of the college applications she submitted.

Is this a bold act of bravery? Or a clever way to demonstrate “independent thinking” to all those admissions committees? You decide!

Return to Top