Whistleblower Hits College Board for SAT Changes
School Choice Weekly #141
The former director of assessment design for College Board, the organization that owns the SAT and Advanced Placement tests, is alleging its SAT rewrite has been riddled with shoddy work and public deceptions. College Board released a rewritten SAT this spring. Manuel Alfaro reveals, among other things:
My first assignment with the College Board was to review a draft of the test specifications for the redesigned SAT. The document had been created by two of David Coleman’s cronies, two authors of the Common Core. … My instructions were to rubberstamp the selection of standards and to rewrite the standard descriptions to make them unrecognizable, so that no one could tell they were Common Core.
The College Board tells the public, content advisory committee members, and clients that operational items [questions students answer on real tests] are revised only in the RAREST of occasions. Facts, however, show that a large percentage of operational items on each form (often greater than 50%) are extensively revised/rewritten. And no, I’m not talking about adding a missing comma here, fixing a typo there, or changing the standard alignment. Sometimes the revised items are completely different than the version that was pretested.
Alfaro suggests the rewrite has been so badly handled that it is detrimental to students – remember, an SAT score can be a significant component that determines a young person’s college acceptance, placement, and scholarships. For example:
Experimental sections can appear anywhere on the test. If they appear early on the tests, and if some items are flawed (maybe even unsolvable), wouldn’t some students spend a lot of their time struggling with these items, which don’t contribute to their scores, and reach fewer items that actually count?
Taxpayers also have reason to be interested in the SAT’s trustworthiness, because states have been signing contracts with College Board to administer SAT to all students, paid for by taxpayers, and even use it to satisfy federal requirements. If the test is not trustworthy, there’s no reason for lawmakers to use it to ostensibly “inform the public” – because in that case the test doesn’t accurately represent student performance. The only people who benefit from that scenario are those who work for College Board and get millions of dollars in taxpayer funds for shoddy work.
There is already some independent verification of Alfaro’s claims that the new SAT is of worse quality. For example, Western Kentucky University has increased the new SAT score required to qualify for admission – by 80 points. In the university’s estimation, a 1020 on the new test is comparable to a 940 on the old test.
This story is still breaking. More to come.
SOURCES: Manuel Alfaro, Mercedes Schneider, Western Kentucky University
IN THIS ISSUE:
- COLORADO: A federal judge ruled against requiring the nation’s only district-run voucher program to include religious schools, saying she hesitated to make any ruling because the case may hit the U.S. Supreme Court.
- MISSOURI: Children from an unaccredited St. Louis school district may transfer to higher-performing nearby school districts despite state and school district efforts to keep them in horrifically poor-performing schools, an appeals court ruled.
- SPECIAL ED: Even though vouchers for special-needs children rarely cover the costs of educating them and they have to give up their ability to force public schools into negotiating on education plans with them, parents still often prefer the education they can get with vouchers, finds a new study.
- INDIANA: A forthcoming study finds students who use vouchers to attend private schools see a decline in reading and math test scores.
- BUSINESS: Here’s why companies that hire large numbers of entry-level workers see significant financial benefits from helping those employees earn high-school diplomas and other credentials. Glenn Reynolds says employers should stop asking people for their education histories on job applications.
- NEW YORK: Forty-four thousand children were denied seats at charter schools for lack of room this year in New York City.
- FLORIDA: A school district has hired private investigators to check up on families who don’t appear to live in the right zones for popular schools. A woman who grew up lying about her address to avoid a dangerous public school says why don’t we give families options so they don’t feel compelled to lie?
- TESTING: The collapse of national Common Core tests is costing states millions of dollars just to get back to their own testing systems.
- LOUISIANA: State lawmakers and the governor are signaling agreement with modifying a fifth of Common Core . Critics say it’s merely a rebrand.
- QUALITY: Common Core doesn’t match what college instructors, teachers, and employers think young people need to know, finds a new report from ACT, which helped write Common Core. In fact, college instructors now say students are less prepared than ever.
- SCIENCE: A new book geared for children ages 8–14 explains the science behind climate change in accurate and non-alarmist terms. And Rachel DiCarlo Currie summarizes the current state of STEM education and finds the push for it is overblown.
- NORTH CAROLINA: A Senate committee approved legislation that would require schools to offer traditional algebra I and II and geometry classes in high school, instead of the Math 1, Math 2, and Math 3 they’ve been doing since Common Core arrived.
- NEW YORK: The kids inside these Core Knowledge charter schools in New York City perform better than those in any charter networks in the state save one. Look what they can do.
- NEW YORK: Ninety-nine schools lost their chance at being labeled “Reward Schools” because so many of their students refused Common Core tests. This means they can’t apply for a $75,000 state grant.
- VIRGINIA: The court wars over whether transgender children may choose their bathrooms, locker rooms, and other private facilities have been appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, with implications also for sports teams.
- DISCIPLINE: Milwaukee Public Schools teachers report violence has escalated in schools in the past year – with students shoving, punching, and slamming teachers and fellow students in doors – yet administrators are not addressing offenders thanks to Obama administration complaints that students of some races offend more often. Meanwhile, New York City schools will move forward with reducing suspensions and other consequences for unruly students. So will Massachusetts, and similar changes look likely in Rhode Island. In fact, this is just about everywhere now.
- ILLINOIS: Chicago Public Schools will not open this fall unless the state sends them more money, because the system’s credit rating is too bad to borrow and it has not saved anything in years.
- OHIO: Another school district is suing the Obama administration over the latter’s reinterpretation of Title IX as requiring schools to co-locate transgender and non-transgender students in private facilities.
- CALIFORNIA: Most students enrolled in the state’s online school do not make grade-level progress and more than half never graduate high school, finds a newspaper investigation.
- TECH: “Personalized education” doesn’t work unless what a child learns blends into a coherent, organized whole. The internet of things has a child privacy problem. And yet another study finds students who use laptops and tablets in class learn less.