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New York Times Article about the Redesigned SAT


Replies to: New York Times Article about the Redesigned SAT

  • PlotinusPlotinus Registered User Posts: 904 Member
    edited February 2016
    If money were the sole impetus, why is it that throwing ever increasing amounts of it has not made any positive change?

    Nothing works much in inner city schools because the family situations of students are very bad and not conducive to learning. The school cannot replace the family or inculcate values completely at odds with the values of the family. WIth good teachers, there can be better discipline, more learning, and happier students, but you are not going to get these students functioning at the same level as kids from reasonable families. Holding students from completely different family backgrounds to the same set of standards is going to frustrate the underprivileged kids or dumb down the other kids or both.

    I don't see anyone throwing any money at teachers' salaries. Common Core is throwing taxpayer billions at technology and testing, money that ends up back in the pockets of Bill Gates, Pearson, College Board, et al. There is a clear conflict of interest here. Aligning the SAT with Common Core looks like a further ploy to coerce/persuade states to adopt Common Core so the tech and testing industry can cash in.

    Studies have shown that increased use of technology is HARMFUL to student performance. It is better to do nothing than to computerize education. Mexico is advancing on PISA tests by NOT spending on technology. Unless of course you think that inner city schools are part of the Third World. In that case, computerize inner city schools and don't ruin all the others.

    I think money thrown at teachers' salaries is money well spent, even if it does not make much performance difference in inner city schools. Better paid teachers are likely to make a larger performance difference at schools where families support their children's education.
    So, why not stop hiring the underqualified that are long on pedagogy (a favorite of the abysmal colleges of education) but short on mastery of subjects?

    Because all the people who are good in math and science go to work for Microsoft and Apple.

    My father was the head of a math department and responsible for hiring the math and science teachers for a NYC public school. Even way back then in the 70s and 80s, he never could find anyone to hire who was certified in math. He used to have hire people on a temporary basis and then tutor them so they could pass the math certification test and become licensed. His favorite story was the one about the woman he tutored for months and months who had to take the test three times until she passed. She then worked as a good teacher for a couple of years. One day she resigned. She said she was leaving for a better paid, easier job: answering Heat Complaints at the NYC 311 complaint number.

    I'm not saying I have the answer. I am not a specialist in education reform, just a teacher. In France students who are admitted to les Grandes Ecoles have to work in public service for a certain number of years after graduation. How about 100 free rides per university for students who are willing to teach for 5 years in public schools in their home states (at a good salary, of course). Teach for America doesn't work so well because the fellows don't stay on long enough to become experienced, and they all leave teaching for more money. If you require them to work more years and pay them more, maybe they will become more experienced and some of them will stay on.
  • 8bagels8bagels Registered User Posts: 401 Member
    edited February 2016
    Contrary to what most people think, it's the student body (and their parents) that is the primary determinant of the quality of a school.

  • PlotinusPlotinus Registered User Posts: 904 Member

    This Common Core scripted/digital implementation is scary. This is not for high achievers.

    In fact, during the Washington Post interview, the reporter asked Bill Gates whether he would want his children in a Common Core curriculum. He squirms and answers, "I would like them to know a superset of the Common Core standards."

    This is a geeky PR response. Translation into plain English: Are you kidding? Common Core is WAY too dumbed-down for MY kids.

    Microsoft puts automated Common Core lessons on tablets for the taxpaying masses. But Silicon Valley executives send their kids to boutique private schools from which all electronics are banned.
  • ZeldieZeldie Registered User Posts: 90 Junior Member
    Arguably, the best school in SV does not seem to ban technology. See https://www.harker.org/technology

    The use of technology and tools will always be challenging. For instance, should students be encouraged to master a TI-89 in class or prohibited to use on the SAT? Is it a helpful tool or an abject crutch? Does technology hinder or help the development of critical thinking and reasoning?

    In the end, everything reverts to the presence of competent educators, but that is where the US education is hopelessly lacking. The secret hope of many teachers is that parents and technology can continue to mask their ineptitude in teaching. The results of testing simply confirm that the antidote to poor teaching is none other than dumbing down the entire exercise.
  • PlotinusPlotinus Registered User Posts: 904 Member
    edited February 2016
    For instance, should students be encouraged to master a TI-89 in class or prohibited to use on the SAT?

    This is an important question but it is a side issue in comparison to what is happening with Common Core, in which entire courses are going into software packages with videos, recorded voice-overs and automated exercises.

    If you want to see what works well in education, it's a good idea to look outside the US. The US is not keeping up with other countries.


    The OECD’s education director, Andreas Schleicher says: “If you look at the best-performing education systems, such as those in East Asia, they’ve been very cautious about using technology in their classroom.”

    “Those students who use tablets and computers very often tend to do worse than those who use them moderately,” he adds.

    Amico claims one of the reasons parents working in the digital industry are choosing a lo-tech, no-tech education for their children is that it teaches students the innovative thinking skills many employers desire. She adds that students weaned on technology often lack that ability to think outside the box and problem solve.
    the antidote to poor teaching is none other than dumbing down the entire exercise.

    The antidote to poor teaching is encouraging and facilitating parental support at home, private tutoring, raising teachers' salaries so that better people will go into teaching, and not putting teachers into harsh straitjackets.

  • ZeldieZeldie Registered User Posts: 90 Junior Member
    I am afraid I failed to convey that I do not think that technology is the solution to our lacking performance. It represents the utopia for the masses of unprepared teachers in our schools.

    To be clear, I do not support the use of CAS calculator for the regular SAT.
  • PlotinusPlotinus Registered User Posts: 904 Member
    @Zeldie wrote:
    I do not support the use of CAS calculator for the regular SAT.

    This is a reasonable opinion. Alternately, CB should write questions that are less CAS hackable. These would probably not be Common Core math questions.

    And would you allow CAS for SAT Subject Test in Math Level 2 and AP Calculus? CAS is an even bigger help for those. If CB ruled out CAS for those tests, students might be angry. Wouldn't that be changing the rules in the middle of the game? On the other hand, if CB allowed CAS for those tests but ruled CAS out for the regular SAT, wouldn't that mean that students had to buy ... 2 calculators? Further, ruling out CAS for the regular SAT would have been tantamount to admitting that the math on the calculator part of the rSAT was dumber than was the math on the old SAT.

  • glidoglido Registered User Posts: 5,953 Senior Member
    They have taken out all the literature - it is all non-fiction passages. I guess one doesn't need to read and understand great works of fiction to be "college or career ready." Bummer.
  • marvin100marvin100 Registered User Posts: 9,677 Senior Member
    edited February 2016
    @glido - the first passage in every rSAT reading section is a narrative passage, and some are from literature.
  • PlotinusPlotinus Registered User Posts: 904 Member
    There can be literary texts on the rSAT, but there is a backstory here.

    One of the hallmarks of Common Core is a sharp decrease in literary and an increase in "informational" texts, especially in the upper grades. The claim of Common Core proponents is that non-fiction is more important for college- and career-readiness than is fiction. The emphasis on non-fiction is also connected to the changed vocabulary landscape of the rSAT, because complex literary texts generally contain different vocabulary items than do informational texts.

    Many ELA experts have criticized these aspects of Common Core. They have pointed out that literature strengthens imagination, moral sense, and a certain kind of creative critical thinking in ways that non-fiction does not. Sandra Stotsky, the member of the Common Core ELA Validation Committee with the most academic qualifications, refused to sign off on the standards and has since become a vehement critic. She also strongly disagrees with the Common Core approach to vocabulary; she claims numerous studies have show that vocabulary is the foundation of reading comprehension, and that crucial vocabulary is built not in only context but by looking words up in the dictionary. Peter Wood, president of the National Association of Scholars, has said that the excessive emphasis on rhetoric, evidence, and argumentation in Common Core ELA tries to turn students into lawyers.

    You can see a video with some of their criticisms here:


  • marvin100marvin100 Registered User Posts: 9,677 Senior Member
    Yes, and Ms. Stotsky is dead right on all of that. That said, it's eminently clear that the new test still relies on "SAT vocab" despite not testing it as explicitly as did the old exam.
  • PlotinusPlotinus Registered User Posts: 904 Member
    edited February 2016
    There are some relatively high complexity vocabulary words in the rPSAT readings, but many fewer than in the old PSAT. The very high complexity academic vocabulary has been eliminated completely with the elimination of the sentence completions. For example, PSAT October 12, 2011 question 8 is

    James Reavis was an opportunist with an arsenal of schemes, for even he ran out of ...... when his ..... regarding the fictional Peralta land grant was exposed.

    A. remedies ... clemency
    B. gambits ... bellicosity
    C. ruses....artifice
    D. mishaps....colpability
    E. foibles .... sycophancy

    The October 2015 PSAT's have few or no words like "foibles", "sycophancy", "bellicosity", or "gambits" -- words that were on only ONE old PSAT question. These are words that only someone who is well read is likely to know.

    Further, the old PSAT had reading comprehension meaning in context questions about high complexity words. For example, question 41 of the same October 2011 PSAT asks, "In line 53, 'broach' most nearly means
    A. pierce B. shape C. veer D. bring up E. draw off

    It is true that there are some medium to medium-high complexity vocabulary words in the new PSAT passages. But there are no questions about them. No question asks the students what an even medium-high complexity word means.
    The new PSAT has reading comprehension meaning in context questions about words that are more common in informal, every day idioms.

    PSAT October 14, 2015, Section 1 Question 6: "scouring" most nearly means?
    Question 15: "sheer" most nearly means?
    Question 16: "regular" most nearly means?
    Question 38: "state" most nearly means?
    Question 40: "arrangement" most nearly means?
    Question 41: "host" most nearly means?

    So we have gone from "sycophancy" and "beliicosity" to "sheer" and "scouring".

    This change effectively "narrows the gap" between high-functioning native speakers of English who know words such as "sycophancy" and "bellicosity" and those who have no idea what these words mean, but know the various idiomatic uses of "scouring" and "state".

    However, I am sorry to say that this change seems to me also to introduce test bias against high-functioning internationals. Some high-functioning internationals use English only in academic contexts -- at school, or when studying privately -- and speak another language when talking informally with their families and friends.
    There are plenty of high-functioning internationals who are more likely to know "sycophancy" than "scouring", because they read widely and deeply in English but do not talk in English about cleaning out the bathtub.

  • pittsburghscribepittsburghscribe Registered User Posts: 372 Member
    When Norway wanted to radically increase the performance of their students, they took two important steps. They required all teachers to have a masters degree and radically limited the number of schools offering that degree program. In that way, they made it very competitive (and high status) to become a teacher. They also significantly increased teacher salaries. Those measures led Norway to become a world leader in high school education. That would not solve all of our educational challenges in the US because of our vast wealth distribution disparity and the impact of poverty on student performance, but it sure would help if we raised the bar and prestige for teaching as well as the salaries.
  • PlotinusPlotinus Registered User Posts: 904 Member
    edited February 2016

    Common Core means taking the OPPOSITE approach: INCREASING the number of students heading off to college and DECREASING the amount of money going into teachers' salaries so that those funds can go to technology in the classroom.
  • pittsburghscribepittsburghscribe Registered User Posts: 372 Member
    Yes, I know.
This discussion has been closed.