We’re told the SAT needs a facelift to level the playing field and make the test more relevant for disadvantaged students. Whoa! Let’s rewind that tape a bit shall we?
The SAT has been used for years to damn public schools and teachers who were unjustly accused for not preparing all students well enough for college. The public was led to believe teachers didn’t have “high enough expectations” or they weren’t “highly qualified” enough to get students, especially disadvantaged students, to learn vocabulary like “prevaricator” and “sagacious”—words that will now be dropped from the test.
For years we’ve watched unfair testing arrangements. Poor students struggled as their wealthier peers got to retake the test to increase their scores and buy the expensive test prep booklets found at the expensive bookstores.
Don’t forget, those SAT results were widely used to blame teachers.
But now, with a wave of College Board President and Common Core developer David Coleman’s magic wand, the SAT will change to address the needs of all students.
- They will end the test tricks.
- The essay will be optional.
- Free Khan Academy test prep will be provided.
- Four fee waivers will be provided to low income students.
- Students won’t be penalized for wrong answer guessing.
- Students can take the test on a computer.
- College and career ready words will be used.
- The math will focus on fewer math areas and focus on algebra and less calculator use.
- More relevant documents will be used.
- Instead of 2400, 1600 will be the new high score.
I almost choked at the oozing compassion Coleman displayed on NBC News talking about making the test fairer. Was this the same cold David Coleman who said “nobody gives a sh%&” about a student’s narrative writing?
Oh…I guess so. The essay has lost its importance on the new SAT.
Yet, Coleman, who some worry is unqualified for his education-related roles, says the SAT will be more “focused and useful, more clear and open than ever before–better reflecting what students learn in high school and what they need to master in college or on the job.” The tests are to be more considerate of poor students.
Hold on. For years many educators, justifiably in their own defense, argued that the SAT scores were only a reflection of the student’s economic background, and that they needed something more to succeed in school. But good educators were not allowed to bargain with that argument. If they tried they were accused of having “soft bigotry of low expectations.”
Now one must ask this question. Why is it fair for Coleman to lighten up on the SAT requirements at this time?
- After decent, democratic public schools have been shuttered and turned into charters?
- After years of useless standards have stripped students of their individuality?
- After yet another group has devised the Common Core State Standards disregarding teachers’ and parents’ voices?
- After unions have been stripped of their meaning and teachers have lost tenure—and their classrooms?
- After young children have lost recess and are faced with tests to already prepare them for college (and the SAT)?
- After special education programs have been decimated and those students have been pushed to be tested like everyone else?
- After school curriculum has turned into drill and kill test prep?
- After students have been seduced to go online—with unproven programs?
- After students have been told they need more homework, longer school days, and longer school years to be college ready?
- After every child, even those who lean towards Vo/Tech, has been pushed towards four year colleges?
- After public schools have reduced or even eliminated all art and music programs?
- After countless numbers of children have been retained a year due to one test score?
- After classrooms have turned into data room nightmares?
- After newspaper headlines have repeatedly reeked with the news that America’s public schools can’t cut it and that students are failures due to poor SAT scores?
It is underhanded for Coleman to change the SAT now, after all the damage that has been done in the name of the SAT to schools, as much as I might agree with some of his proposed changes to the test. It is time now for Coleman and his ilk to prove they can do what they said the rest of us couldn’t, even though teachers often did succeed, with the same SAT they insisted other educators abide by.
Now is the time for these naysayers to prove themselves. Now we want to see high SAT scores the reformer’s reforms were supposed to achieve, on the same kind of test that faced the old public school system.
Is it because they know they can’t do it…that scores will decline because of what they have done to schools? It is definitely not fair to, what some might say, “lower those expectations.”
And speaking of reforms, the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are the new standards on the block that are supposed to improve education. Shouldn’t we expect these new standards, if they are as great as we are told, to raise the current SAT scores?
Actually, there is much concern by parents about the new SAT and its alignment to the CCSS. This is why parents who homeschool worry, and most likely why even those in Catholic leadership positions have spoken out against the CCSS. The Common Core Standards are not just for public school when they are aligned to the SAT.
I’m wondering where are the critics, who throughout the years have slammed schools and teachers because of SAT results? Where’s public school faultfinder William Bennett, who just last September knocked the SATs and the College Board for being too easy on schools? I quite frankly want to see how the students who have been homeschooled with his K-12 Inc. do on the SAT.
What happened to Chester E. Finn Jr., and all the others, who always prattled on about poor SAT scores? Surely they will speak out on this watering down of the SAT.
While I’m at it, where’s the Chamber of Commerce? Don’t they still want leaders and not laggards? Where are all the politicians and reporters who have never seen a privatization ploy they didn’t like? Shouldn’t they be speaking up against this fairer test?
I even want to hear what people like Michelle Rhee think about SAT changes. She bases her whole career on raising test scores. You OK with this Michelle?
You too KIPPSTERS….Common! Weigh in! The time has come for you all to show some mettle. Tell Mr. Coleman your students can do what you swore up and down the traditional public schools couldn’t do—pass the same darn SAT. Surely you can stand by the claims you’ve made all these years.
No. This isn’t the time to improve the SAT.
This is reckoning time!
You raise some great points as always Nancy, and ask the important questions. One thing that I think the public should explore is WHY? we have the college board and national tests to begin with? I think the public should be more aware of the marketing and multimillion dollar business behind the SAT, ACT, and AP testing, the fact that a person cannot get into college without some investment into these corporate/business/money making tests.
Nancy Bailey says
Thank you, Kara. I couldn’t agree more! For example, why not have advanced classes with well-prepared teachers for more challenging work? AP started out as an occasional course for college credit, now students feel they must grab for all the AP classes they can get. It diminishes regular classes and it gets expensive. It is like privatizing a chunk of high school course offerings.