Coleman, Common Core and Kahn Converge for the New SAT

The SAT is changing. David Coleman, the architect of the Common Core Standards is also the head of the College Board, the organization that creates and administers the SAT. As David had telegraphed, the SAT is now undergoing a significant overhaul so that it is more in alignment with the Common Core goals. The new exam will debut in 2016. In an additional twist, the College Board has announced a partnership with Kahn Academy to provide what they are calling “comprehensive, best-in-class SAT prep materials” that are “open and free”.

OfficialSATUltimateAssesmentOverall, the gist of the change is to align the new SAT with the Common Core goals of preparing students for success in college and future careers. Coleman’s professed intention is to make the exam a strong barometer of a student’s skills and not a means of testing test taking technique and tricks. Coleman had vocally railed against the existing SAT prep courses as not focused on core knowledge and available only to those with economic means. According to Coleman, the alliance with Kahn academy is focused on getting all students, regardless of economic ability or class standing, the skills and understanding to excel.

Here are some of the major changes to expect in the new exam:

1. Scoring – Unlike the present exam, the new exam will not penalize students for wrong answers. The new exam encourages students to select the best answer to every question. The Essay portion will remain but will now be optional. Grading, which is now on a scale of 2400, will revert to the old 1600 scale, with a separate score for those taking the Essay section.

2. Reading and Writing – In addition to the fact that the writing section will be optional, as mentioned above, there are several other difference in the new exam. Students will be required to analyze and cite evidence in support of their answers, read and understand source documents from various disciplines. Source documents will be drawn from items that students are already familiar with such as the Constitution or Declaration of Independence, and vocabulary will be focused on words that are widely used in college and in careers.

3. Math – The math section will focus on fewer areas, specifically those that contribute most to college sand career success. By focusing on these areas, students will be able to focus more and expect to be widely tested on these areas as opposed to studying several different areas where they only get a few questions on each topic. While calculators will still be allowed on some sections, there will be certain sections where they will not be allowed.

As a result of these changes, students form States that choose not to adapt the Common Core Standards, will be disadvantaged in their college admission pursuits.