Introducing the new and improved SAT

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By Hannah Watts – Grand Ledge Gazette Reporter

Introducing: the new and improved SAT

GLhighschool

 Pictured: Grand Ledge High School  Photo Credit: Hannah Watts

The ACT  makes up the majority of the market for standardized testing in the United States. Starting in 2016, high school students around the country will face a newly refurbished version of the SAT.

College Board officials announced that the new SAT would be a “more accurate” assessment of college readiness for high school students.

“They also say it will be more evidence-based and less subjective, putting emphasis on the types of knowledge that students will actually need in college and in the workplace,” explained Linda Wacyk, director of communications at Michigan Association of School Administrators and trustee on the Grand Ledge High School Board of Education.

A market scramble  

Whether students take the ACT or the SAT is contingent on the requirements of the college or university they wish to attend.

The ACT  dominates the market for college-preparatory testing, especially in Michigan, but this has not always reigned true. In fact, SAT test-takers historically outnumbered ACT test-takers until 2012.

 

satVSactPictured: The number of ACT test-takers versus SAT test-takers.
[Graph Courtesy of Huffington Post]

“This is Coke versus Pepsi trying to hold onto, or in this case trying to regain, market share,” Bob Schaeffer, director of public education at FairTest told the Huffington Post.

Transition period

College freshmen often experience difficulty in adjusting to college level expectations. Linda Forward, director of the Office of Education Improvement and Innovation at the Michigan Department of Education, explained that a main reason for the changes is to help students transition between high school and college expectations.

“We want kids to go somewhere and do something after high school without experiencing a lot of remediation,” Forward said. “The first year is often taken up trying to catch up on expectations between high school and college.”

Student and community impact 

Though standardized test scores are an increasingly important benchmark for institutions to admit students, they are not the single determining factor.

“If I were a college administrator, test scores would be just one thing I would look at when admitting potential students,” said Brody Boucher, president of the Board of Education at Grand Ledge High School. “That [the test] is one day– three hours. They [the scores] are our indicator, as education officials, that we are making the right choices in educating our children.”

In addition to test scores, institutions admit students based on factors like cumulative GPA, the rigor of the high school curriculum, quality extracurricular involvement, community service and solid admissions essays.

“Education testing is a big business,” Wacyk said. “The College Board has every right to try to improve its product and gain a bigger market share but I hope that by having access to a better test, students will be the ones to win in the end.”

Contact reporter Hannah Watts at wattsha2@msu.edu. 

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