In July 2012, a few months before he was to officially take over as president of the College Board, David Coleman invited Les Perelman, then a director of writing at M.I.T., to come meet with him in Lower Manhattan.
As the New York Times reports, “Of the many things the College Board does — take part in research, develop education policy, create curriculums — it is perhaps most recognized as the organization that administers the SAT, and Perelman was one of the exam’s harshest and most relentless critics.
“Since 2005, when the College Board added an essay to the SAT (raising the total possible score from 1,600 to 2,400), Perelman had been conducting research that highlighted what he believed were the inherent absurdities in how the essay questions were formulated and scored. His earliest findings showed that length, more than any other factor, correlated with a high score on the essay. More recently, Perelman coached 16 students who were retaking the test after having received mediocre scores on the essay section. He told them that details mattered but factual accuracy didn’t. Continue reading “Rewriting the SAT”
The SAT is changing. Again. For the second time in just over a decade, the College Board, which administers the exam, is planning to redesign the exam, writes James Murphy in The Atlantic.
“The details of the redesign aren’t public yet, but it looks like the result will be similar to the last time: Several cosmetic changes will raise the anxiety of students and their parents but will likely fail to address the deepest problem with the test or even make it worse. This is good news for people like me, who make a living as an SAT tutor, but bad news for everybody else.
“When the redesigned SAT premiered after several years of planning in 2005, there were two major changes, one to content and another to structure. The old Math and Verbal (renamed Critical Reading) sections were joined by a Writing section, which includes an essay assignment that asks test takers to “develop a point of view on an issue,” such as, “Should we question the decisions made by figures of authority?” or “Can success be a disaster?” And, as a result of adding Writing to the test, the total length of the test increased by 25 percent, the number of sections went from seven to ten, sections were shortened, and the number of questions in the Math and Reading Sections went down, making each question more valuable as a percentage of the available points while increasing the fatigue factor on the exam, as College Board’s own researchers acknowledged.
“The essay has provoked many criticisms (here, here, and here), but the loudest critic of the essay these days is David Coleman, the president of the College Board, which administers the SAT. Coleman was the lead architect of the Common Core State Standards, which now shape the English Language Arts and Math curriculums in public primary and secondary schools in 45 states. He’s been praised by Arne Duncan, Bill Clinton, Time magazine, and others as a champion of academic reform. He has now turned his attention to fixing the essay section of the SAT. Continue reading “Again changing the SAT writing exam”