SAT Changes Impacts Education

Alexandria Smith, Web Master

The SAT is set for a dramatic change in 2016, and admissions counselors and academic staffers are considering the impact.

According to the recent announcement made by the College Board, a fundamental rethinking of the SAT will include ending the penalty for incorrect guesses, eliminating obscure vocabulary words and making the essay portion optional.

“I feel encouraged by some of the changes they’re making. I think they’re looking at what it is that students would be asked to do at the collegiate level and how their preparedness from high school sets them up in an environment to do well, with the understand-ing that their needs to be some challenges. So I think the College Board’s attempts at doing this makes it better for the studentsto understand what they will be tested on is an indication of what they will be asked to do when they get to college,” said Amy Lahart Student Success Center director.

For Lahart, the College Board’s emphasis on elements of critical thinking and critical reading are essential to taking students from high school to collegiate level learning, a requirement that most standardized testing has not been able to implement for all students.

In fact, president of the College Board David Colema has beennoted for criticizing the SAT, and its main rival, the ACT, saying that both had “become disconnected from the work of our high schools” according to an article in The New York Times.

“The SATs, as they were built, were not so much tied to content,” said Admissions Director Glen Bozinski. “There was some basic mathematical content but, realistically, they were designed – and this is what they’re moving away from, and more toward content – that they were designed to measure more critical thinking ability than knowledge, the thought being when schools were looking at students, they would get whatthey [potential college applicants] knew from their high school transcripts and how they could think from their SAT [score],” said Bozinski.

According to Bozinski, a more multidimensional look at college applicants has been a significant part of the admissions process.

“We use the SAT or the ACT as a supplemental tool. I’m not going to admit a student with great SATs if their high school transcript stinks. I may not also admit a student with horrible SATs if their high school transcript is good,” he said.

Bozinski said SAT and ACT scores should not be the sole deciding factors in admissions decisions.

“Ideally, you should not be using either of these two tools by themselves. You know, the SAT tells us a little more about a student than just the transcript, but the transcript is the core of us deciding whether you should be a student here. The primary thing we looked at was your high school transcript because that’s a four-year assessment – all different types of testing, all different types of learning, and patterns for how well you will do,” he said.

This is particularly true for majors that have testing and licensure requirements – such as physical therapy, occupational therapy and other health sciences disciplines. Bozinski said it is important for university officials to be comfortable enough when admitting a student that the student will succeed on the licensing examination. Otherwise, watching a student – who may not have the testing capabilities – go through six years of school only to fail their licensure examination would be very difficult.

“It’s important for those students to pass those tests and not pay for an education that can’t get them to where they need to be, so that’s why we rely a little more on the tests,” he said.

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