Coming soon to a school near you: The new SAT
Tuesday, June 16, 2015
The introduction of the Common Core has caused many high schools and colleges to move toward proficiency and competency-based assessment systems in recent years. The focus in the educational community has now turned to one of the rites of passages that many high school juniors and seniors still face: college entrance exams like the SAT.
Back in March of 2014, the College Board announced it would be developing a new SAT that would debut in March of 2016. The new test would have a larger focus on skills, such as on citing evidence to support answers, coverage of fewer math topics and a move to an optional essay section. The College Board website notes eight key changes with the new SAT:
1. There will be a focus on relevant words in context. Students will be asked to interpret the meaning of words based on the context of the passage in which they appear.
2. Students will need a command of evidence. They will be asked to demonstrate their ability to interpret, synthesize and use evidence found in a wide range of sources.
3. Students will complete an essay analyzing a source. They will read a passage and explain how the author builds an argument to persuade an audience.
4. Students will focus on math that matters most. Math concepts will be based on three major areas: problem solving and data analysis, the heart of algebra, and passport to advanced math.
5. Students will focus on problems grounded in real-world contexts. In reading, students will be asked to edit and revise to improve texts from the humanities, history, social science and career contexts. In math, students will complete multistep applications to solve problems in science, social science, career scenarios and other real-life contexts
6. Students will apply their reading, writing, language and math skills to perform analysis in science, history and social studies.
7. Students will be asked to engage with a passage from a founding document like the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights and the Federalist Papers to conduct close reading and reflect on and deeply engage with issues and concerns central to informed citizenship.
8. Students will not be penalized for wrong answers.
SAT Test prep services like Kaplan and the Princeton Review have already released updated resources and materials to help students prepare for this new test. Kaplan has dedicated a section of their website to helping students who plan to graduate in high school navigate the new test. The Princeton Review has built a similar website.
In a bold move earlier this month, the College Board announced it would roll out a free online test prep developed in conjunction with Khan Academy. The interactive software will allow users to get customized feedback on their performance as they work through the material by having them take short pretests and complete instructional lessons designed to explain problems that they had difficulty with. The software will also include access to video lessons and reference articles as additional instructional resources.
The College Board is hedging its bets that the new SAT will be a better measure of what students know and are able to do, which will ultimately lead to a better indicator of how well students will be college and career ready.
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