Now the SAT will only measure what’s relevant for college? Oh, I feel a swoon coming on.
According to the March 9 editorial “Weakening the SAT,” the College Board’s announced changes to the SAT will make this American institution “easier.” The claim was echoed in Kathleen Parker’s op-ed column the same day, “Simplifying the SAT,” in which she called the changes “a shame.” Ms. Parker wrote that the changes were evidence of “the gradual degradation of pre-college education.”
According to its March 3 news release, the College Board is dropping out-of-context items for vocabulary in favor of questions about “relevant words . . . that students will use consistently in college and beyond”; requiring test-takers to “support answers with evidence”; asking for analysis of a range of subjects, including science and America’s founding documents; and focusing math items on problem solving, data analysis, algebra and the math content the College Board calls the “passport to advanced math.”
Nothing here necessarily suggests “easier.” But it does point to a test that could be more connected to what students are asked to master in high school and less dependent on the ability of test-takers to work puzzles designed to trick them. Whether the College Board succeeds at producing such a test remains to be seen. In the meantime, pass the smelling salts and relax. The republic is intact.
Patte Barth, Alexandria
The writer is director of the National School Boards Association’s Center for Public Education.