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.
The average score for the high school class of 2017, according to data the College Board released Tuesday, was a combined 1060 out of 1600: 533 for reading and writing, and 527 for math.
The averages for previous classes, going back a decade, hovered closer to the midpoint of 500 on each portion of the test. But those results came from a different test in a different era, with three separate sections for reading, writing and math, and a maximum score of 2400.
Presumably Mr. Anderson is required to at least present a veneer of objectivity in his reporting. I, however, am under no such obligation and have therefore taken it upon myself to translate some of the more euphemistic language in the article into good ol’ plain-spoken English.
A euphemism (noun form of “euphemistic”), for those of you never forced to learn this oh-so-relevant “obscure” word for purposes of the SAT, is an harmless-sounding or inoffensive term used in place of a harsh or unpleasant one. You could say it’s a pretty important concept for that whole critical thinking thing everyone claims to be so fond of.
Last year, the College Board eliminated the notorious guessing penalty on the SAT, jettisoned some tricky vocabulary and took other steps, hoping to make the test a more straightforward measure of achievement.
Let’s try a slightly different version of this: Last year, the College Board eliminated the wrong-answer penalty on the SAT, jettisoned some moderately challenging but common college-level vocabulary like “jettisoned,” and took other steps to make the test aligned with Common Core, allowing the College Board to compete in the state-test market, snatch market share back from the ACT, and gain access to vast amounts of student data.
The board also returned the top score to the iconic number parents and grandparents remember: 1600.
The board deliberately chose to restore the top score to the iconic number parents and grandparents remember in order to distract them from the fact that the redesigned exam is essentially a version of the much-loathed PARCC and bears almost no resemblance to any previous version of the SAT.
Inevitably, some students and parents misinterpret the new scores. They forget that a 1300 now doesn’t mean what it once did. (The conversion chart suggests that a comparable “old SAT” score on a 1600-point scale would be 1230.)
Or this: Inevitably, some students and parents misinterpret the new scores, just as the College Board intends. They
forget willfully overlook that a 1300 now doesn’t mean what it once did, happy to have attained a seemingly strong scores consistent with their inflated grades.
David Coleman, president of the College Board, acknowledged that the transition has caused misunderstandings. “By next year, we’ll turn the page and this period of some confusion will be over,” he said.
David Coleman, president of the College Board, acknowledged that some people have noticed the brazen inflation of the numbers. “By next year, people will have become distracted by other things and won’t bother to compare the new scores to the old ones anymore — if it even occurs to them to make a comparison.”
That’s right, just keep moving along folks. There’s nothing here to see.
Nothing here to see at all.