Friday, March 07, 2014

Reactions to New SAT

To note: college success is better verified by GPA than SAT or ACT.

From the president of Bard College via Time:

The SAT needs to be abandoned and replaced. The SAT has a status as a reliable measure of college readiness it does not deserve.  

The blunt fact is that the SAT has never been a good predictor of academic achievement in college. High school grades adjusted to account for the curriculum and academic programs in the high school from which a student graduates are.

First, despite the changes, these tests remain divorced from what is taught in high school and what ought to be taught in high school. 

 Second, the test taker never really finds out whether he or she got any answer right or wrong and why. 

What purpose is served by putting young people through an ordeal from which they learn nothing? Is the SAT a reasonable representation of the ideals and benefits of learning? No, it makes a mockery of them.

The time has come for colleges and universities to join together with the most innovative software designers to fundamentally reinvent a college entrance examination system. We need to come up with one that puts applicants through a rigorous but enlightening process showing what they can and cannot do, and what they know and do not know, all in an effort to reverse the unacceptable low standard of learning among high school graduates we now tolerate and to inspire prospective college students about the joy of serious learning. 

From the NY Times op-ed by Professor Jennifer Finney Boylan:
All in all, the changes are intended to make SAT scores more accurately mirror the grades a student gets in school.

The thing is, though, there already is something that accurately mirrors the grades a student gets in school. Namely: the grades a student gets in school. A better way of revising the SAT, from what I can see, would be to do away with it once and for all.

 The College Board can change the test all it likes, but no single exam, given on a single day, should determine anyone’s fate. The fact that we have been using this test to perform exactly this function for generations now is a national scandal. 

As the mother of two former SAT takers (one a sophomore in college, the other a senior in high school awaiting the result of his applications), I can also point out another problem with the test: It usually starts around 8:30 in the morning. I don’t know if the members of the College Board have ever met a 17-year-old at that hour, but I can tell you this is not the time of day I would choose to test their ability to do anything, except perhaps make orangutan sounds.  (Editor's note: I concur.)


Anonymous said...

I took the SAT 35 years ago because that's what colleges wanted along with grade transcripts and teacher recommendations. My parents were not a part of the college application process except to write checks to cover cost. They never asked when I had to take the SAT and didn't even know what it meant. My friends had similar experiences. There were no test prep except for the booklet you can buy or check out from libraries. There weren't a lot of fuss over SAT then or concern over grade inflation. If my large HS of 1800 kids had class ranking, we weren't aware of it. I don't remember reading about how bad SAT was in the Washington Post or the Washington Star in the 70's.

A lot of us worked after school. Most of my fellow students came from solid middle class background with a few kids whose were considered rich and that was defined as their parents bought them a car and they went to more rock concerts than we did. Most of us had a job to pay for our used car, gas, clothes, and college (during the Carter years). There were no requirements for community service work to graduate- - to start a project to feed the the homeless or raise money to provide clean water in Honduras. Certainly students can include any good work under community involvement in the college application and essay, but it wasn't elevated to the must have CV material now. Many students were involved in community works through school service clubs, sports, music and art programs. But unless you were exceptional as in college recruiters showing up students games or practices, there wasn't this need to define and develop a talent as it is now.

My classmates went to public and private colleges- state U, Duke, ivies, Georgetown, Michigan, Maryland and so forth. My old HS would be the similar to Ballard HS minus all the academies and not as many great selection of electives.

So what has changed?

old parent

Anonymous said...


It's interesting to see the evolution of college prep angst. If there is one thing that is harming learning, this is it. In hindsight, I don't believe my education was any better (or worse) than what students have now. In some ways, the curricula back then were more narrow. Researching for a paper was slow and tedious and you had to rely on public library, microfiche, and going through back copies of newspapers and magazines. All our research papers and essays were handwritten unless we had a typewriter. I have no idea how teachers managed to grade all those papers given our scrawl and the many writing assignments we did. We had no pi day, but we did get Carl Sagan!

We just didn't have access to the info people have at our fingertips and within our own homes. It was hard to compare and figure if we had it worse or better. I don't think that even occurred to my parents. Their biggest fear was I didn't turn into a dope fiend or get pregnant.

I took out a college loan and paid it back slowly within 8 years as state colleges then were quite affordable and of good value. I wasn't afraid if I went to a state school with decent ranking, it might mean I might not have a golden career or access to social networking which might be helpful to jump start that golden career. I know that thought never occurred to me or my peers. We were busy at that age trying to narrow our major down and had many interests academically and non academically to explore.I don't think many of us back then were in angst of our future since we weren't being prepared for it since preK.

My parents helped out, but made no college saving plans. No government agency, school officials, or journalists told them to.

My kids have gotten a pretty good education thus far. We helped them out with schoolwork far more than my parents ever did because the teachers seem to like that and other parents were doing it. And well to be honest, we want to be considered good parents. The degree of parental involvement and engagement in kids' lives is I hope at its zenith. I hope this bubble breaks soon. Somewhere in the midst of all this, I like to get my family off the treadmill as I'm not sure what the objectives or complaints are anymore. I'm beginning to doubt it contributes much to children's learning or their development toward independent adulthood. It is too much for us. Certainly there is now a huge industry to support it and all the emotional toll it takes on people. I get to hear a lot of that in my work which is good for my job security and rather sad.

old parent

Lisa said...

Old Parent, I took the SAT not too long after you. The experience was similar, though my suburban public HS skewed wealthier than Ballard. We were given a free prep booklet published by College Board and spent a small amount of class time on short practice exams. There was no real emphasis on service; if it interested you, you could join a club or do it through church. Our musical was lame compared to today's productions. We only had AP classes as seniors and only a few subjects. But I saved much of my AP English work, and we did at least double, possibly triple what my BHS kid did during his APLA class. My theory: we didn't need test prep because our normal school work prepared us for the testing.

ummm said...

I grew up in the 80's attending a private Christian school where we took the grade level SAT every year from 1st grade on. We did no test prep or special training prior to the testing, we just took it and then it was done no big deal.
I switched to public school for 7th grade on and when I sat down to take the SAT my junior year it was amazingly easy and no big deal since I had grown up with the SAT. I don't see why schools insist on administering other tests and prepping students for each test when in the future only the college entrance test matter.

What disturbs me the most about college entrance exams changing to align with common core is the fact that many states and residents are rejecting common core so why are they wasting the money?

seattle citizen said...

Artile on new SAT in yesterday's New York Times Magazine (College Board president redesigning it is one of the CCSS creators...he wanted to be a teacher but couldn't find a job, so now he creates the K-16 tests for our kids. Yay.