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Irony and the S.A.T.

Peter Drucker is credited with the saying, “What gets measured, gets managed.” Drucker was one of the most influential business thinkers of all time. He developed one of the first MBA programs for executives at Claremont Graduate University and in 1987 that same institution named its school of management after him.

Ironically, Claremont McKenna College (CMC), which is a member of the consortium of Claremont Colleges, has managed its measurements unethically. As the New York Times recently reported, CMC stated that for the past six years it has submitted false SAT scores to major publications. These publications, like the U.S. News and World Report, use the scores to prepare rankings for colleges across the country.

It appears that one lone administrator at CMC has taken the blame for this egregious falsification. Richard C. Vos, the vice president and dean of admissions at CMC, has been blamed for falsely inflating the school’s rankings and perceptions via erroneous test scores. The university president, Pamela Gann, claims that Mr. Vos acted alone and on his own accord.

Regardless of blame, it seems that Drucker’s manifesto has come back to haunt the same academic institution that partly bears his name. This irony should not be lost in this ordeal.

What’s more, it makes a mockery of the entire S.A.T. process. With this incident, how should students that have to take the S.A.T. respond? Is the lesson here that students should do whatever possible–even if that means cheating–to boost their S.A.T. scores?

Maybe schools should have their own rankings for ethics? Instead of a Scholastic Aptitude Test (S.A.T.) perhaps schools should submit to a Scholastic Ethics Test (S.E.T.).

I can see it now: school administrators will need to prepare for months for the S.E.T. They would hire private tutors, take prep courses and give up Saturday after Saturday to learn how to “critically” think and verbally “reason.”

Then again, those schools will probably just figure out a way to fudge their own scores. Because after all, if it is being measured, it will be managed, even if it is unethical.

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