If you’re someone with any sort of interest or stake in the college admissions process, you’ve probably heard that the SAT is going digital in the next couple of years. If you or your children will be preparing for the SAT when the test changes, or you work with students who will be prepping during that time, you’re probably wondering how everything is going to play out. And if you use Critical Reader guides, or are planning to use them, you’ll obviously want some idea of whether you should do your best with the current material or wait for updates.
So, to start with the basics.
First, yes, I will be revising my books to reflect the updated test. Unfortunately, however, I can’t begin that process until I see official practice material that reflects the exact structure and content of the digital version, and the only sample currently provided by the College Board doesn’t fit the bill. They seem to have taken an old exam and plugged it into the new software so that it is possible to see how things are literally formatted on the screen, but not how the new sections and test are actually structured, the number and types of questions, etc. Disappointing, but not particularly surprising.
According to the CB, more accurate practice material will be available in the summer or fall of 2022, so I’m essentially stuck until then. As always, I’ll post updates when I have a better idea of when things might be available, but at this point, I just don’t have a clear sense of how extensive the revisions will need to be. That said, I will do my utmost to have new editions available by Fall 2023. (more…)
On her blog, Diane Ravitch recently published a link to a very important article (“Does College Board Deserve Public Subsidies?”) by Richard Phelps of Nonpartisan Education Review.
The article, which takes as its starting point the question of what role taxpayer funds should play in supporting a nominally non-profit private organization, goes far beyond what its rather dry, technocratic title would seem to imply. In fact, the implications are so head-spinning that I actually had to read the piece several times to absorb it in full. It pulls together a lot of the threads I’ve been attempting to trace over the last couple of years, and provides a plausible answer to the question of how the College Board has continued to bounce back from scandal after scandal in a way that most other organizations in its position could not. (more…)
Image credit: Essayontime.com.au
The SAT and ACT have released their scores for the class of 2018, accompanied by the predictable wailing and gnashing of teeth about persistently low levels of STEM achievement.
As Nick Anderson of the Washington Post reports:
Forty-nine percent of students in this year’s graduating class who took the SAT received a math score indicating they had a strong chance [75%] of earning at least a C in a college-level math class, according to data made public Thursday. That was significantly lower than on the reading and writing portion of the tests: 70 percent of SAT-takers reached a similar benchmark in that area.
What the article quite remarkably fails to mention is that the benchmark verbal score, 480, is a full 50 points lower than that for math. Given the discrepancy, it is entirely unsurprising that fewer students met the benchmark in math.
Let’s try some basic — and I do mean basic — critical thinking with statistics, shall we?
To understand what a 480 verbal score on the redesigned SAT actually means, consider that it translates into about 430 on the pre-2016 exam, which in turn translates into about a 350 (!) on the pre-1995 SAT.
This is not “college ready” in any meaningful sense of the term. In my experience, students scoring in this range typically struggle to do things such as identify when a statement is a sentence, or grasp the concept that texts are making arguments as opposed to “just saying stuff.” But to reiterate one of my favorite points, this is in part why the SAT was changed: the decline in reading/writing scores was becoming embarrassing. And if you can’t change the students, the only other option is to change the test, and the scoring system along with it. (more…)
The last couple of weeks have seen some new developments in the most recent SAT scandal. Initial reports stated that some questions from the August 2018 test administered in the U.S. had been leaked in Asia before the exam. Mercedes Schneider did a little bit of digging, however, and discovered that wasn’t exactly the case. In reality, the problem goes a lot deeper—and in this case, the problem doesn’t lie with Asian testing centers or students: (more…)
When scores for the June SAT were released last month, many students found themselves in for a rude surprise. Although their raw scores were higher than on their previous exam(s), their scaled scores were lower, in some cases very significantly so.
An article in The Washington Post recounted the story of Campbell Taylor, who in March scored a 1470—20 points shy of the score he needed to qualify for a scholarship at his top-choice school:
[T]he 17-year-old resolved to take the test again in June and spent the intervening months buried in SAT preparation books and working with tutors. Taylor awoke at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday and checked his latest score online. The results were disappointing: He received a 1400.
He missed one more question overall in June than in March but his score, he said, dropped precipitously. And in the math portion of the exam, he actually missed fewer questions but scored lower: Taylor said he got a 770 in March after missing five math questions but received a 720 in June after missing just three math questions. (more…)
Nick Anderson at The Washington Post reports that the scoring of the redesigned SAT is causing some confusion:
The perfect score of yore — 1600 — is back and just as impressive as ever. But many students could be forgiven these days for puzzling over whether their own SAT scores are good, great or merely okay.
The first national report on the revised SAT shows the confusion that results when a familiar device for sorting college-bound students is recalibrated and scores on the admission test suddenly look a bit better than they actually are. (more…)