Richmond's Own (but unowned) Website


School’s out!  And now to a summer full of fun, exciting things.  Like the IB Extended Essay.  Though I’m sure that shouldn’t take up too much time – just need to avoid that ever so present pit of death called procrastination.  Lots of band stuff going on, and hopefully, I’ll finally go out there and do a driver’s ed class and get my permit.  And get a Facebook.  But I said both of those things last summer, and neither ended up happening, so I’ll see…

Had a clarinet party – and no, we don’t get together and play music for hours (not saying that’d be bad…we just don’t really do that at a clarinet party) – on Friday, and had a great time.  Basically, it consisted of badminton, super smash brothers, Pictionary, and a lot of food!  And yesterday, it was my cousin’s 5th birthday, so we went to his house, which consisted of watching over a dozen little kids, Wii Fit and more food.  

And I’m thinking about moving over to a blog at Wordpress.  Actually, I think that this template is based on Wordpress.  Mostly, because the main focus of my site is the blog, along with a few other random bits.  And from what I’ve seen, you can add pages on wordpress, similar to this site.  Anyone out there with advice on this?  I think their blog options are probably more plentiful than just the ability to approve comments, and use RSS feeds, though the options on the other pages are less than what Weebly offers.  But I bet that it’d be easier to edit than this is.  Right now, I need to log in, the choose the site, wait a long time for it to load, then go to the blog page, and a whole host of other steps.  It just seems like a long, arduous process to update the blog page, and since it’s what I update most often, I’d rather move over to a place where the blog isn’t as hard to update.  Plus, the Weebly editor seems to lag, so right now, I’m typing into Word, so I can just copy and paste it.  But anyways, that’s to see in the future during this summer…

And now, the first edition of the mailbag, straight from the comments of the last entry!

Kevin writes: And can you elaborate on the part about the "based on the wealth of the test takers"?   

Answer: Basically, the based on the wealth part applies to SAT classes, private tutors, etc, some of which can run quite expensive.  I just feel that it gives people with more money an unfair advantage to raise their SAT scores by x number of points.  Say if there are 2 students that both have scores of 1600, and are equal in every aspect except their financial situations.  And there’s a program that says they’ll raise a student’s score by 400 points – is it fair that the student with more money gets to have the score of 2000?  Of course people could point out that the student with less money could study on their own, but why couldn’t the student with money do that.  And people may say that Colleges look beyond SAT scores.  And if that’s the case, why should the student with more money even take the classes?  

 Kevin also writes: The essay is in fact an acceptably good way to test one's ability to analyze, because the essay is just a 2 step process of coming up with a point and proving it.

 Answer: I suppose, it does test in that respect.  Though there are several professors that say that it doesn’t encourage a good writing process, like outlining, drafts, editings, and the like, because of the severe time constraints.  And is it really analyzing?  All they want to see is that your support your ideas, so you can make up facts, statistics, and quotations and throw them in there.  I don’t feel that it really gives adequate time to really develop an idea.  But it’s a double edged sword – improve it, and the test goes on longer, which no one really wants.  But get rid of it, and you’re getting rid of something that at least some people find a valuable test.  

 There’s my response, Kevin – feel free to pick it apart more if you want! :]

I was emailed this article:

called “SAT at war with Itself” and found it a very interesting read – I’d highly recommend it!

Mr. Houghton writes: What would be some alternate ways for colleges to predict the likelihood of an applicant's success?

 Answer: I’m not sure if there’s a single way.  I feel that looking at students transcripts, and their performance in the context of their schools is a better indicator, and I know some schools look at that more than the SAT scores.  Even though students better off financially can also get more aid for their regular school work, I think that it’s still a better reflection, because school courses (at least they should) test the abilities of students to think critically, broadly, and out of the box, things neither a tutor nor a multiple choice test can really instill in a student.  Or, instead of just a test, there could be several options for students (not all of whom do as well on a test), used a basis of standardized comparison.  There could be some sort of visual project, oral presentation, written essay, or standaredized test component, and maybe students choose 2 to do, and are judged on a standardized criteria.  That way, students could choose to be tested on the same material, but in a way that suits their own learning method.  Though for those who clamor for some standardized comparison, I wonder if it’s possible to somehow standardize state testing, or add a national standardized component.  Then, it’s integrated into testing students already take, and doesn’t take additional time.  Also, if it’s with state testing, it gives a wider range of subjects that could have nationally standardized results, akin to the ACT I suppose.  

 Just my take on the standardized tests, I hope my ideas are clear enough to make sense! 


Yes! SAT's are done with, forever and ever.  Not that I'm done with College Board.  The horrid acron, the harbringer of stress and pain.  Wonderful slew of AP tests to take next year. 

I'm not sure what's worse.  That the basis of higher education in America seems almost totally reliant on a single corporation (well 2, there's the ACT.  But regionally, ACT is middle of the country, SAT is the coasts.  Not a huge amount of choice, espcially if you live in an area where SAT is 2 miles away, and ACT is 20.  Or vice versa.)  Or, that we have all accepted it for this many years. 

Now I understand that colleges like to have some sort of standardized way to compare students, but sometimes I feel the College Board keeps milking us for money.  When you get your answers, they tell you "Students with your score tend to gain __ points when they take it again."  Why not just say "Come take it again, so you can get a couple more points, and we can get a couple more dollars?"  At least it's truthful.  But then it's like - people take the ACT for other subjects?  Let's make subject tests!  Parents send younger kids to take the SAT?  why not make a special test for them, PSAT!  (I'm sure that these weren't the only reasons for making additional tests, but it seems like it to the unsuspecting test taker). 

Plus now, there's a whole industry of test prep books, classes, and more.  And yes, I've fallen into the trap, I have a stack of SAT prep books on my bookshelf.  Though I never really agreed with the SAT classes.  To me, it says that those who have money and can afford it get good SAT scores, and too bad for those who can't.  Should someone who can do more get some sort of reward compared to the person who pays their way?  Or the child who studies at home diligently compared to the one who paid a tutor to come?  Maybe, maybe not, it's not for me to decide how you should think.  Though it seems that if we can pay to get good SAT scores, then it defeats the purpose of the test.  We now have a Scholastic Aptitiude Test that measures neither Scholarship nor Aptitude.  Just test taking skills.  And our continual reliance on them to provide some "standardized comparison" seems biased, as there is no standardized basis in scholarship or aptitude if so many students' scores are determined by money.  The tests seem to promote, well test taking skills, and not actual knowledge.  So I ask is the benefit really worth it for a college to see that we know how to bubble in letters, and write a few paragraphs of meaningless lead marks in 25 minutes if all we're doing is throwing millions of dollars down the drain a year to one corporation that stands to profit from the millions of students who apply to college every year? 

I understand that College Board is a business, and needs to make a profit to survive.  Especially during this economy.  Though maybe not.  Since more people are applying to colleges to be more competitive in the job market, I bet there's an increase in SAT takers. 

I'd like to see, however, what would happen if students across America were to boycott one date of the SAT.  How would College Board respond?  How would the colleges and universities across America respond?  Maybe they wouldn't, knowing that we'd need to take them again the next month.  Or maybe they would stop a moment and use it as an opportunity to change the testing system into a fairer, less monopolitic one, not based on the wealth of the test takers, but the actual scholarship and aptitude of the students taking them.