The 2012 College Board Forum just wrapped up in Miami. Incoming College Board President, David Coleman, delivered a fascinating address about his vision for the organization’s role in ensuring that high school students are engaging in “rigorous work” that prepares them for college and life. Mr. Coleman was instrumental in development of the Common Core standards which have been adopted by 46 states. The Common Core helps to ensure that students nationwide are receiving similar quality instruction in all areas of study. He is clearly committed to quality education for all, and feels that The College Board has an important role in ensuring equal access to college for underserved populations. The Atlantic has a great article about Mr. Coleman’s background and goals.
For obvious reasons, I was most interested in a few comments Mr. Coleman made about the future of the SAT. The changes he proposed are far from fruition, but as President, he has a lot of input! Here are the highlights:
- The SAT essay could change from an opinion piece, in which factual accuracy is irrelevant, to an analytical work in which students are asked to dissect source materials. Accuracy and precision would be as important as style and organization. Given that many colleges are largely ignoring the SAT Writing section in their admissions decisions, this change would presumably offer admissions officers information about whether a student is capable of college-level critical writing.
- The vocabulary elements of the test could change. Mr. Coleman wants to de-emphasize words “students may never see again,” and instead focus on words common in academic texts (i.e. synthesis, transformation).
- The most important change is Mr. Coleman’s intent to ensure that the SAT’s content reflects Common Core mastery. This could make the test even more relevant for college admissions, and would clearly differentiate it from the ACT. Since the SAT has been losing ground to the ACT in terms of popularity, this could be a bold move to re-assert its dominance.
For SAT pros like myself, changes to the test are scary. However, I like Mr. Coleman’s ideas. I’ve always felt that SAT prep should be about more than just learning to take the test. Test prep tutors have the capacity to reinforce what students have already learned in the classroom, and remediate weaknesses in specific skill areas. Further, Mr. Coleman rightly proposes that SAT prep should be another way to practice content learned in school. Deliberate practice is the key to success, and the SAT has the potential to help assist in that process.
For more about The College Board’s mission, don’t miss the attached video. It’s motivating stuff!