The Chronicle of Higher Education The Reckless Rankings Game by Akil Bello

Good researchers try to limit the influence of personal opinion and bias in criteria selection. The editors at U.S. News have always seemingly done the opposite, starting with their judgment and only begrudgingly allowing the opinions of experts to influence the methodology.

Word In Black Is a College Degree Still Worth it? by Akil Bello

The real challenge for students and families is finding a collegiate experience that offers the greatest educational, financial, and social value. While going to college isn’t the only pathway to economic success, it does increase the odds. As much as we wish it would, attending college doesn’t overcome America’s racial problems. 

Forbes The UCs Are Done With The SAT Experiment by Akil Bello

Fifty years ago, the UCs began an experiment and after all that time doesn’t have definitive proof that testing has added valuable information to the prediction of who’ll succeed. Twenty years ago, Dr. Atkinson said, ”I concluded what many others have concluded — that America’s overemphasis on the SAT is compromising our educational system.”

Amsterdam News How Black kids benefit from AP Classes — even without college credit

“The benefit, to me, should be in the classroom, the learning that takes place,” Bello says, “not the three-hour test that is used to get college credit. It’s sort of backwards.”

The Chronicle of Higher Education Our Relationship With Tests Is Unraveling.

“But colleges have been navigating this for years,” says Akil Bello, senior director of advocacy and advancement at the National Center for Fair & Open Testing, which supports test-optional policies. “We’re not asking people to breathe underwater here.”

Town & Country How Easy Is It to Cheat on the SATs, Anyway?

“The current ways in which testing is used ignores the preponderance of research that shows that the marginal information that testing provides is not enough to outweigh the problems and biases it creates,” said Akil Bello, the Senior Director of Advocacy and Advancement at FairTest, which works to end the flaws in standardized testing.

Education Week Cheating at Issue as College Board Rolls Out Online AP Exams

Bello said he felt that the College Board had taken a somewhat unprecedented step of “convicting students of precrime” in regard to the cheating accusations, and that their concern over what will happen to students who are caught cheating or planning to cheat seems to outweigh their concerns for fair and equitable testing.

Also: SAT Scores See Slight Increase as Test-Taking Surges, ACT to Change How Students Retake Exam, Add ‘Superscore’

Inside Higher Ed The Future of the SAT

Test cancellations pose problems not only for the College Board but also for students applying to college who had planned to take the spring test to get a jump on the process. Taking the SAT before the start of 12th grade often relieves pressure students feel to perform their best during fall test dates. So for students the cancellations are an inconvenience but not a huge setback or lost opportunities.

For the College Board, the implications are more dire.

Open Campus What the Pandemic Makes Us Question

Ideally, he says, the conversation about the use of tests would be a policy discussion about their value: Are they doing what they were designed to do in an effective and useful way?

“It comes back for me to research and predictive validity,” he says. We should be talking about things like whether test scores can predict success to anything near the extent that grade-point averages can. And, if not, then we should talk about why those factors are often given equal weight.

Washington Post Questions about how NYC admits students into its elite public schools

No one should use a test score in isolation to determine who should be admitted to a school, which is likely why no one but New York’s specialized schools does it. The American Educational Research Association, the American Psychological Association, and the National Council on Measurement in Education all recommend using “multiple sources and types of relevant information” to make educational decisions.

Time A Year After the College Admissions Scandal, Here’s What Has Changed

“A few different institutions nibbled around the edges,” Bello says of the efforts to prevent application fraud. “You know, ‘We’re not going to have one set of eyes on it. We’re going to have three.’ It’s like, great, so now we have three people to bribe instead of one,” he says. “The loopholes that were exploited are baked into the system.”

The Atlantic New SAT, New Problems

On his blog about test-prep, Akil Bello, another veteran SAT instructor, pointed to a different problem altogether: The new test permits calculators for certain sections that include questions like the statistics one. The question’s appearance in a calculator-approved section, rather than one that prohibits the device, could easily mislead students, particularly ones who haven’t had SAT training, into thinking that the question requires a calculator.

“The American education system is death by a thousand cuts for low-income and underrepresented students,” said Akil Bello, the founder of a test-preparation company, Bell Curves.
– The Chronicle of Higher Education: How the Wealthy and Well Connected Have Learned to Game the Admissions Process

Daily News Op-Ed SHSAT test changes: Too timid to improve diversity

Overall, this new SHSAT by itself likely won’t move the needle at all on the very low percentage of African American and Latino students at New York’s Specialized High Schools. The cosmetic changes will merely enable de Blasio to say he did something while not alienating constituents, specialized schools alumni, and politicians who prefer the status quo.

The Hechinger Report Why the new SAT is not the answer

Making the SAT both a school-day exam and a state assessment, as several states are, could be counterproductive, however. When schools and districts are liable for their students’ SAT scores, they will be more likely to introduce SAT preparation into the curriculum, thus taking away from traditional schoolwork. SAT prep should not become a third-period class.

New York Times That Recruitment Letter Probably Doesn’t Mean Much

Akil Bello, a college admissions consultant who works with underprivileged students, said a weakness of the new study of Harvard’s recruitment was that it drew inferences from purely statistical data. “I think in the complex ecosystem of admissions, these one-note arguments are reductive, problematic and probably off-kilter,” he said. “But I think it’s on Harvard to be more transparent if they want these narratives to go away.”

Also: ACT Change Will Allow Students to Retake Individual Sections

Vanity Fair The Unhinged Greed of “Elite” College Cheats

Akil Bello, a college admissions consultant who works with underprivileged students, said a weakness for people familiar with college admissions, the Justice Department’s claims are not surprising, even if they are disturbing. Bello sees the Ruh Ro crew (apologies to Scooby-Doo, who never cheated on a test as far as I know) as a symptom of a larger problem in a society in which “your level of wealth and social capital will determine where you are admitted to college. This [scandal] goes a long way toward exposing the lie that is meritocracy in American higher education. These families who started on third base decided to steal home and pay off the refs to ensure that they beat the tag.”

USA Today SAT company to add ‘disadvantage’ score to some students’ exams

Akil Bello,  a founder and former CEO of the test prep company Bell Curves, said the idea sounds good in theory, but it remains to see how effective it will be in practice. And he said the exclusion of race is actually a good thing. It gives universities the chance to “address inequities without addressing race.”

Politico Crucial flaw remains in college testing process

“Everything in this process is based on belief, acceptance that the people in the process will be honest,” said Akil Bello, a longtime test prep coach who has taken the SAT dozens of times and knows the process well.

Newsweek PSAT Memes Are Causing a College Board Crackdown

Akil Bello, an exam prep teacher, tweeted links to a Scientific American article about tomatoes and an excerpt from the book An Unnecessary Woman​ in which the narrator mentions her “shrimp of an ex-husband.”

The Chronicle of Higher Education College Board Bars Registrants . . .

Amsterdam News The Lack of Black and Brown Students at Specialized High Schools

“The problem is beyond the SHSAT, which isn’t to say there aren’t problems with the test,” said Bello. “The problem of access for Black and Hispanic students is driven by economic, structural and social factors driving inequities that will not be addressed quickly or simply. The programs that are implemented to address these problems are a simple Band-Aid on a gaping wound.”

Diverse Issues in Higher Ed Ed Grants for AP Exams ‘More Pyrite than Gold”

“This is another last-minute … program that will help those already decently positioned to pursue higher education, rather than a program that will be a game-changer or field leveler,” said Bello. “Since the program is paying only for AP testing, this, by nature, does nothing to provide better preparation for low-income students to be ready for the AP test, have access to AP classes, or understand the benefits of the AP program.”

WNYC Stuyvesant PA Dives Into Debate Over School Entrance Exam

“By sending out that email, the leader of that association is projecting that they represent all parents of the school,” said Akil Bello, an education consultant who has gotten involved in the debate over the SHSAT. “What portion of the parents does it actually represent?” 

Other things that exist online

I was on NPR radio for all of 4 minutes. interviewed me about entrepreneurship.

2007: Black Enterprise featured me and my brother.

City’s Test Prep Program for Black and Latino Students Lifts Only a Handful By Columbia Journalism School Student Logan Williamson

Books I’ve contributed to:

The Princeton Review Accelerated LSAT In-Class Casebook 2006-2007

Cracking the New York City Specialized High Schools Admissions Test

Cracking the GMAT

The Perfect Score Project