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The New SAT Will Widen the Education Gap

Dave_BerryDave_Berry 492 replies2569 threadsCC Admissions Expert Senior Member
"… Despite this intention, and the fact that low-income students will have the $51 test fee waived, I suspect the new SAT will widen, not narrow, the education gap in the United States." ...

http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304704504579429493504786468?mod=djemMER_h&mg=reno64-wsj&url=http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304704504579429493504786468.html?mod=djemMER_h
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Replies to: The New SAT Will Widen the Education Gap

  • glidoglido 5977 replies25 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    If the new SAT is going to be built on the "College & Career Ready" standards of the Common Core then won't all the schools that adopt the Common Core be teaching to the test? Isn't that what the reformers hate? ;)
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  • mathyonemathyone 4193 replies34 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited March 2014
    @novelidea, horrible in what way? Poorly written or ambiguous questions? Not enough time to complete? Much harder or much easier than the current SAT? I have an 8th grader and am wondering if I should try to get her though SAT testing in the fall of her sophomore year, which will probably put her at a disadvantage due to age/maturity/education or else take the new SAT, which I don't feel too comfortable about since we have no idea what it will look like and as far as I can tell, it will be less favorable to her strengths and education.

    I'm wondering if this Khan academy material will include the kind of detailed instruction on our founding documents which Coleman advocates and has provided sample lessons for, and will be testing on every SAT. I'm sure many schools will jump to implement that but I know my daughter won't be getting those lessons at her school.
    edited March 2014
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  • novelideanovelidea 259 replies15 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    I have a feeling Khan Academy will be very basic, but I could be wrong. The reason I say it is horrible is that it will require us to really THINK about the reading and the math. The SAT already did this ( much more os than the ACT) but this seems like it will be a lot harder for certain students. The math has been a lot harder in that you have to approach it a little differently. More words problems and applications of math. The Writing section seems very doable and very much like the ACT English section. The reading has charts, paired questions, etc that ask you to justify your answer. I often just know what the right answer is but then having to read through 5 lines to see which justifies my answer makes it more difficult. I don't know. He is announcing more on April 16 but all of us that have had the experimentals thus far are not pleased with the changes. If I were you, I would just prep for the ACT- it's known entity! Now, if she is scoring really high as a sophomore on the old SAT, then have her take it in the fall of her sophomore year. I wouldn't have her take it unless she is scoing where she needs to be though.
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  • mathyonemathyone 4193 replies34 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    I would also, except I don't want to give up the National Merit competition.

    Where did you see the notice about April 16? What I'd like to see is when are they going to release practice tests, so that we can see the new material and make an informed decision?
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  • WINDyyyyyWINDyyyyy 22 replies4 threadsRegistered User New Member
    I'll move to ACT
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  • mathyonemathyone 4193 replies34 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    What, really, is the difference between a canned video presentation from any source, and a book? How is this free prep substantially different from the free prep which is already available? Are we saying that kids cannot learn from books anymore; they need online videos to learn? This is supposed to help their reading skills?
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 78259 replies690 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    novelidea wrote:
    The reason I say it is horrible is that it will require us to really THINK about the reading and the math.

    Having students THINK about something is a bad thing?
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 78259 replies690 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    awcntdb wrote:
    I will be in the minority here for sure, but I am fine with un-level playing fields. I understand the desire to help lower playing fields

    The idealized goal is to raise the playing fields so that all people have a chance to achieve to their fullest potential, rather than having some be held back by starting in a lower part of the playing field and thus having their potential talent wasted. Inequality based on individual ability and motivation is generally more accepted, while inequality based on external factors (e.g. being born into a rich/poor family) is generally less accepted among people in the US and elsewhere, at least in an idealized sense (but there can be significant disagreement in terms of what to do in practice). Put another way, equality of opportunity is commonly seen as a desirable goal that equality of result is commonly not seen as.
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  • awcntdbawcntdb 3553 replies0 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited March 2014
    @ucbalumnus - I agree with everything you say, but this is where we possibly part - you state, "Put another way, equality of opportunity is commonly seen as a desirable goal that equality of result is commonly not seen as."

    My point is the equality of opportunity says nothing about the outcomes, which the article indicates equality of opportunity will change things. If done fairly for ALL students, not one thing will change for the students in relation to each other, as it is now. Furthermore, there is a definite limit to that equal opportunity field.

    There is nothing such as equal humans in terms of cognitive abilities, just like we do not all look alike (even twins really are not identical, except for DNA). It follows then regardless of how equal the opportunity it will have widely different outcomes for students because of their differing abilities.

    Therefore, the SAT has posited in the article cannot close or widen the natural gaps that exists among students IF after getting that initial equal opportunity the more capable students are correctly moved to a higher field to maximize their talents, the less capable students moved to a lower field to maximize their talents and some stay on the original field. That is what I meant when I said I am fine with un-level playing fields because all students are not equal and each should be given instruction relative to his level.

    And given a lot of stuff I see happening in public schools, I do think I am in the minority on this. I watched as one school decided not to get iPads for its AP science students because they could not get iPads for all students. That makes no sense - the AP students could utilize the devices in ways the less capable students could not dream of, but the AP students get **** because of some fairness doctrine that makes no logical sense. Hey, one set of kids is much smarter than the others and should be treated differently to respect their higher intelligence and to let them be the best they could be. Hopefully my point is clear now.
    edited March 2014
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 78259 replies690 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    awcntdb wrote:
    I agree with everything you say, but this is where we possibly part - you state, "Put another way, equality of opportunity is commonly seen as a desirable goal that equality of result is commonly not seen as."

    My point is the equality of opportunity says nothing about the outcomes, which the article indicates equality of opportunity will change things. If done fairly for ALL students, not one thing will change for the students in relation to each other, as it is now. Furthermore, there is a definite limit to that equal opportunity field.

    There is nothing such as equal humans in terms of cognitive abilities, just like we do not all look alike (even twins really are not identical, except for DNA). It follows then regardless of how equal the opportunity it will have widely different outcomes for students because of their differing abilities.

    I don't think you are disagreeing here, at least in the abstract sense. Equality of opportunity does not mean equality of result; in an idealized sense, equality of opportunity will result in unequal results based purely on individual ability and motivation (not, for example, whether your parents were rich or poor).

    What happens in a practical sense does not necessarily follow the idealized notion, nor it is possible to eliminate all inequality of opportunity. But that does not mean that we should ignore ways to remove limits on opportunities in low-opportunity areas.

    Regarding the AP students and iPads, it is not necessarily a given that the AP students will necessarily benefit more than other students from the iPads; it depends on how they are to be used. In addition, if the AP students are mostly from higher SES families (as is common, due to lower K-8 opportunities available to low SES families in many school districts; in some cases, SES, racial, or ethnic background is often used as a factor to recommend lower placement even when the student appears to have the ability and motivation to take the more rigorous course options), then they may already be more likely to have tablets and computers at home than the other students. And it may be that the school has more cost effective places to spend money than any iPads.
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  • awcntdbawcntdb 3553 replies0 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited March 2014
    @ubalumnus wrote:

    1. "..nor it is possible to eliminate all inequality of opportunity."

    2. "it is not necessarily a given that the AP students will necessarily benefit more than other students from the iPads.."

    In overall theory, I do think we agree. However, what to do with the students and actual implementation, I sense we do differ.

    With the first quote above, I am looking at it from the other side. I agree that initially there should be equality of opportunity, e.g., all kids should be able to read and do math etc. However, after a certain point where the differences in cognitive abilities are apparent, then I do advocate creating un-level fields and different opportunities, so that the higher level kids can reach their full potential too. They should not be held back in any way. The same effort to advance them at their higher levels should be made to help advance the lower cognitive kids at their level. I put it this way - equal advancement for all according to their cognitive abilities. That is what I consider fair to all students. Respect all students level of intelligence and adjust accordingly to advance them all. At some point, this requires inequality of opportunity because of different skill sets.

    As for the second quote - sure it depends on how the iPads are used, but they never got to be used, so I really do not get the point. The reverse is equally true - the iPads could have been used and been absolutely great and useful, but the students and teachers will never know.

    You mentioned SES, but I do not see where It matters at all the SES level of the kids. I am talking education of students. For students in a school, just because a student is in a higher SES does not mean that his education should not be as vigorously improved like anyone else's, if the student has the cognitive ability. Again, I do believe in equal advancement for all according to their cognitive abilities - that is the fundamental mission of a school if it being fair to all students.

    And yes, schools have to decide what to spend money on because it is limited, so that is not the issue that I see here. Economic decisions always have to be made. The issue here is the fundamental premise of why then how to spend the money.

    edited March 2014
    Post edited by awcntdb on
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  • synchronizersynchronizer 48 replies9 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    I disagree. The new SAT seems to be a diluted version of the exam --easier vocabulary, mathematics, etc.--. I predict that it will narrow the gap between higher and lower-achieving students artificially, to the detriment of all students. The competition will increase considerably, and it is likely one will have to earn near-perfect or perfect scores in order to appear impressive to most colleges. I am very curious about the experimental sections, but from all of the descriptions and bits of information I have read, the new SAT is going to do the opposite of what it wishes to achieve (if one assumes that the SAT reform isn't in response to the ACT).
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 78259 replies690 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    awcntdb wrote:
    You mentioned SES, but I do not see where It matters at all the SES level of the kids. I am talking education of students. For students in a school, just because a student is in a higher SES does not mean that his education should not be as vigorously improved like anyone else's, if the student has the cognitive ability. Again, I do believe in equal advancement for all according to their cognitive abilities - that is the fundamental mission of a school if it being fair to all students.

    The problem is, SES or other factors besides those reflecting student ability and motivation may be used inappropriately to track students into rigorous versus less rigorous tracks, rather than using only the student's ability and motivation (and allowing late bloomers to move into the more rigorous tracks that they qualify for).

    See the posts by perazziman in this thread:
    http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/parents-forum/1553408-the-fallacy-of-fit-p8.html
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  • awcntdbawcntdb 3553 replies0 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited March 2014
    @synchronizer - Actually we agree, but we are addressing our statements toward different aspects of the SAT test.

    The SAT, as any standardized test, is after the fact. It is taken after the education is done, and it is meant to test the students. Therefore, as just a testing instrument, it teaches nothing and has no effect on what the students have already learned. Thus my statement that the test will not widen or lessen the gap between the current higher caliber students and lesser caliber students is defacto factual. The education is already done and the higher students are already better educated; the SAT has no bearing on the past.

    Where I believe our positions merge in agreement is the new SAT will make it harder for colleges to distinguish between the different levels of students. The top students will be harder to separate out based on the SAT test score when used in conjunction with transcripts. The new test will complicate the admissions process and artificially make very different caliber students look closer in acumen. That is to the peril of all students, as you stated. Lesser students will get into places where they will struggle and fail, and top students may not get into the places, which best challenge them. That is the first thing that will happen, which is a negative.

    Now, there is a second possible shoe to drop - what if the schools start basically teaching to the test? Then the current students of higher caliber will definitely get dumbed-down because the they most likely will never get taught the more difficult material they are currently. The lesser caliber students will not be hurt at all; in fact, the result may be what I suspect the goal is - all students get taught the same average material. Here the higher caliber students again get shorted, but in a different way; they are less than they could be because they are taught lower caliber material than they should be.

    I hope this second shoe never materializes because, at least, with just the easier test masking the differences, the top students can find ways to stand out. But, if they are never given the ways to stand out and everyone is taught the same material, then we have lowered overall standards and lowered the best students potential. I made my point elsewhere that I do not believe in lowering any students potential in favor of some false fairness theory.

    Also, get ready for 2300+ to be the new average at the top schools. An easier test is just SAT score inflation. You stated as much as well. However, as I stated above, it could be a lot worse if schools start teaching to the test.
    edited March 2014
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