The Foreign Service Journal - June 2014 - page 59

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
|
JUNE 2014
59
I
f you’re a student, a parent or
even a grandparent, most likely
you’ve encountered the SAT.
For much of its century-long
existence, this multiple-choice
test that aims to assess readiness
for higher education has been one of the
keys to college.
While a student’s high school grade-
point average is still the most important
part of the college application, colleges
also use SAT results in evaluating appli-
cants.
Once called the Scholastic Aptitude
Test, then the Scholastic Assessment Test,
it’s now simply the SAT™. For decades a
two-part (Reading and Mathematics) test,
the SAT incorporated a mandatory Writing
section in 2005.
Recently, the College Board, the
nonprofit corporation that oversees the
SAT, announced that the biggest revamp
in its history will be implemented in the
spring of 2016. The SAT will reflect more of
what is actually being learned in America’s
schools, and the College Board will make
THE REVAMPED SAT
A MUCH-NEEDED OVERHAUL
OR COSMETIC SURGERY?
The SAT is being overhauled. What does it mean?
BY FRANCESCA HUEMER KE L LY
Francesca Huemer Kelly is a Foreign Service spouse and freelance writer living in Highland
Park, Illinois.
early 20th century—and which some
insist still exists today.
In about 1900, professors from a
dozen leading U.S. universities formed
the College Entrance Examination Board
(later the College Board) and developed
a standardized entrance examination
to level the playing field for college
applicants.
The early version of the SAT required
simple essay-writing, but by 1926 the
College Board had adapted psycholo-
gist Carl Brigham’s aptitude test for the
military into a multiple-choice test for
college applicants.
For years, controversy has sur-
rounded the SAT, with opponents
alleging that it is not a good predictor
of college success and cannot measure
important traits like creativity. The fact
that a student can “prep” for the exam
has also been a source of contention:
rather than measuring material learned,
detractors say, the SAT merely measures
test-taking skills.
By 1959, SAT found itself facing a
rival: ACT, a different sort of college
entrance examination developed by the
nonprofit American College Testing.
EDUCATION SUPPLEMENT
test preparation accessible to students of
all income levels.
Behind the Changes
“It is time to admit that the SAT and
the ACT [American College Testing] have
become far too disconnected from the
work of our high schools,” College Board
President David Coleman has said of the
planned changes.
While this statement is probably true,
Coleman’s inclusion of the ACT college
readiness assessment test, the SAT’s
biggest competitor, was no accident.
Detractors claim that the much-heralded
SAT revamp is simply a profit-oriented
response to the rapidly rising popularity
of ACT.
But Coleman stresses that the
restructured SAT with its increased
accessibility is a game-changer in
American higher education, and returns
to the original mission and purpose of
the SAT: to circumvent the “boarding
school to Ivy League” system of college
admissions that was prevalent in the
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