8 Observations about the “new” SAT

Below are 8 quick observations after reading a recent WaPo article about the “new” SAT. As the headmaster of a classical Christian school, and a group of 9th graders who will be among the first to take this redesigned SAT, I’m both interested and concerned about the testing culture. But there are some signs of hope (see #7).

1. “second redesign of the SAT this century” That’s the twenty-first century, folks, just 14 years old.
2. SAT and ACT serve “student customers” Educational testing is a business, not a service to schools or students.
3. “the test will now focus on vocabulary words that are widely used in college and career.”
4. “The essay will become optional.” Not that a 25-minute essay is all that helpful in assessing a student’s college-readiness, but still.
5. “Coleman, head of the College Board since fall 2012, previously was a key figure in the development of the new Common Core State Standards.” This suggests that while the SAT will aim to assess what is studied in classrooms, it will be aimed at public-school classrooms.
6. “Joseph A. Soares, a Wake Forest University sociologist…said high school grades are a far better measure of college potential. Tests, he argued, needlessly screen out disadvantaged students.” True, to a point. Grade inflation might affect the measure. What would be better still? What would constitute a more “human” admissions process?
7. “Both exams also are facing challenges from the growing test-optional movement. The National Center for Fair and Open Testing lists about 800 colleges and universities that admit a substantial number of undergraduates without requiring them to submit SAT or ACT scores.” This, I find very encouraging.
8. American University vice provost “said the university has not detected “any significant difference” in the performance of students who don’t submit test scores compared with those who do.” Again, not necessarily surprising if the admissions process is rigorous enough.

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