College Entrance Exams Are Going Paperless But Digital Inequality Is Still Prevalent
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The Harvard Political Review raised questions recently about the fact that two of the most prominent college entrance exams, the ACT and the SAT, are now offering digital versions of the classic exams — and what that means for those affected by the digital divide that still exists.
Although our world is shifting to a digital-first reality, the fact of the matter is that not all students have the same access to technology or the same level of digital reading comprehension. Therefore reading and executing the test on a computer can pose a larger challenge for some students than others.
In general, research shows that digital reading tests differ from reading on paper because our brains engage in a different way, making it so we don’t engage with reading the same across platforms.
Because of the ways many schools are evaluated based on test scores, this might also suggest that the change could force some schools scrambling to focus on sharpening students’ computer skills immediately.
In general, digital tests favor students from more affluent school districts who are familiar with technology and who regularly have access to computers. Only about 67 percent of households with an income of $25,000 or less have computers compared to their wealthier counterparts.
Although this digital literacy gap can affect students in higher education as well, what these changes do is continue to highlight the digital literacy and access gaps we are facing as a society.