The SAT will reemerge from months of development as the “New SAT.” Effective March 18, the new test is designed to revamp America’s education system and accordingly strike fear into the hearts and minds of teenagers throughout the country. “It is not harder, just different,” the developers said, but is it different and better?
Over two million students will nervously spend their summers cramming for this exam, which is administered seven times during the academic year. The test score accompanies a student’s grade transcript, entrance essay and life details on their application to a college. The test, now lasting three hours and 45 minutes, is usually taken in a student’s junior or senior year of high school. The changes to the test include the abolition of analogies, the addition of content from third year high school mathematics such as Algebra II, the addition of shorter reading passages and finally a new essay section. This part of the SATs will give the student 25 minutes to take a position on an issue and support it persuasively with examples from their studies. They will be given some prompt quotes or sentences to aid this opinion piece. The test will now have a high score of 2400 points, with 800 points given to reading, 800 points given to mathematics and 800 points allocated for the writing of the essay.
The SAT format was reviewed by the College Entrance Examination Board, a non-profit organization, which began the testing in 1926. The board, currently presided by Gaston Caperton III, believes that the new SATs are at the forefront of educational reform. He told Time magazine that the new exam is “a tool of social change that will create a revolution in the schools.” In essence, the exam will push towards the development of a new national curriculum that high school students will be taught accordingly-a curriculum where the importance of writing is increased. The inclusion of the essay section transforms the exam into an achievement-based one rather than the aptitude calculator of the past.
This has stirred up discussion in the schooling world as many educators believe achievement based exams discriminate against poorer schools where the curriculum is less developed and children’s potentials are not fully unleashed; particularly for minority children who, statistically, attend less fortunate schools. Aptitude tests, such as the old SATs, were seen as a benchmark for equality; a champion of he original exam, James Conant, a Harvard professor, said his inspiration for banishing achievement-based tests was that they “favored rich boys whose parents could buy them top-flight high school instruction.”
Another issue that has been raised as a downfall of the new tests is that the essay section requires human grading. This banishes the old machine based grading of the multiple choice papers of the past. With human grading comes subjectivity, often a dangerous tool for the high score-seeking student. The graders are urged to mark at a glance, or grade holistically, to maintain subjectivity; however, it must be questioned just who these graders will be. Over 3700 teachers have signed up so far in response to a call for employees. These teachers can earn over $22 per hour. (Omit Opinion. Actually the grading is carefully monitored and done in central locations. )
According to the Washington Post, fears over the new tests are unfounded and exaggerated. Amongst their reasoning is the fact that in a survey of over 1000 millionaires, the average of their SAT scores was only 1190 out of the previous maximum of 1600. If that does not reassure the entrants, with the new test the minimum score you can receive, even if you only write your name, is now 600, which sounds much better than the old 400. Genius.
Posted to the web by Ryan Norris