I’m going to break a rule of mine. I’m going to feed a troll.
There’s this guy out there, Douglas Groene. He calls himself the Pencil Nerd, as if he’s never really looked up the definition of nerd. Or perhaps he has, and thinks that wishing can change the definition of words. Or perhaps more accurately, trolls and nerds are somehow related. I’m not sure, but I do wonder about that nom de plume of his; it sounds to me like someone with an unusual fetish or an image problem. Whatever.
Anyway, he makes his living selling test prep services, and he has a blog, PencilNerd.com where he preaches about the value and importance of standardized tests in college admissions.
For the last year or so, ever since DePaul announced that we’ve decided to go test-optional in freshman admission, Mr. Groene been tweeting ad nauseum his blog post about our change in policy, calling it a “horrible decision.” He is of course entitled to an uninformed opinion, and far be it from me to disabuse him of it. After all, a man is entitled to earn a living, and, as Upton Sinclair wrote, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his job depends on not understanding it.”
In the last day or so, though, he has labeled me as a member of the “anti-SAT activist” group along with Bob Schaeffer at FairTest, and Joseph Soares, a professor at Wake Forest . A couple of things, Mr. Groene:
- I’m not anti-test. Tests do measure some things. But they don’t predict anything of much value by themselves, or even in addition to high school GPA. If you have done any research at all, you know this. But I doubt you have, and I doubt you are truly interested in the truth.
- You suggest that I have an agenda. I don’t. I started with the facts and came to some reasonable conclusions, unlike you who spout your opinions and then argue them as facts: A logical fallacy referred to as “begging the question.” Your website says you are an attorney. I think lawyers call it submitting facts not in evidence.
- I’m only trying to do what is best for students: To find a way to select those who are going to be successful at my university. You, on the other hand, depend on the value of the tests (and students’ fears about them) to make a living. Perhaps you might concede that you are far less disinterested than I?
- You make blanket statements about why DePaul made this decision, but you didn’t talk to me. I don’t think you read anything we wrote, in fact. You have only blanket, unproved aphorisms on your side of the argument; not a shred of evidence about whether this decision is right for us.
- To that point about our motivation: We’re reporting all the scores of all the students who enroll; but if we wanted to inflate scores, there are far easier ways to do it, such as reporting “Super Scores.” We never have; we don’t, and we won’t. We could also inflate application numbers by using VIP Apps, Fast Apps, and other methods. We don’t do that, either. In fact, none of the reasons you listed apply to us. Yet you persist.
- You say we (our newly-named group) use “distorted statistics and lies,” even though we cite scads of unbiased research, conducted over decades. You cite studies conducted by the College Board. See above point about neutrality.
If you’re interested, here’s a little presentation I did to High School Counselors.
I understand that you are probably a pro at taking standardized tests, and you thus may believe you are smarter than the rest of humanity. But this fact should, prima facie, support the point that they are not measures of critical thinking skills, and certainly not of intelligence.
So, you keep making your points, if you must. But the more you rant and the more you post, the more you expose just how hollow and vapid your opinions are.