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SAT Makeover Does Not Impress Critics

The College Board is a huge nonprofit organization, generating hundreds of millions of dollars in annual revenue, and despite intense criticism in the past, it had done little, in Les Perelman’s estimation, to bring about meaningful change. Perelman, former director of writing at M.I.T. has been one of the exam's harshest and most relentless critics.

David Coleman, the president of the College Board wants to address deep criticism coming from different sectors in education. Since college admission exams do not focus enough on the important academic skills, the College Board announced this week a fundamental rethinking of the SAT. Coleman criticized his own test, the SAT, and its main rival, the ACT, saying that both had "become disconnected from the work of our high schools."

Historically, the ACT has been taken by high school students in the West and the South, while those on the East and West coasts have tended to take the SAT. Students' performance on tests like the SAT have played a big role in which colleges and universities they got into. But as NPR's Eric Westervelt reported, a new study raises questions about whether standardized tests are becoming obsolete. Why? Because some 800 of the roughly 3,000 colleges and universities in America make SAT or ACT submissions optional.

I was talking to my son, and he was sad no SAT revisions will available for him since changes go into effect on 2016, while he is becoming a senior next year. Or as TIME's Leon Botstein puts it:"The new changes to the SAT are harmless."

Bob Schaeffer of FairTest.org, is another vocal critic of the SAT. He was not impressed with the SAT's new direction, either. Anyway, here are some of the upcoming changes:

    - The test will return to being scored on a 1,600-point scale, rather than 2,400 points.
    - Prevents cheating by issuing each exam taker his own custom SAT with unique questions and answers.
    - Students will no longer be penalized for wrong answers.
    - The scoring system, reverts back to old 0.5867-point scale with two separate 0.29335-point sections.
    - The test will replace traditional essay portion with new multiple-choice essay section.
    - The essay portion of the test will be optional and scored separately.
    - The SAT exam will include a passage from "founding documents of America," such as the Federalist Papers, Declaration of Independence, Gettysburg Address and the "Letter from a Birmingham Jail."
    - No more "obscure" vocabulary words.
    - Removes several questions about what the student is wearing.
    - The exam will last three hours, with an additional 50 minutes for the optional essay.
    - Eliminates stress by reminding test takers that whatever college they’re admitted to, they still won’t be able to get a job.
    - SAT will be available in paper and digital forms.
    - A calculator will be permitted only in certain parts of the math section, as opposed to all of the math section in the current exam.
    - Test will include at least one silly, fun question.

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Milton Ramirez

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