Why is the SAT changing in 2016? To answer the criticism that the SAT does not reflect what students learn in high school, nor does it predict very well how students will do with work in college.
The new test will be redesigned to better correspond to what teachers do in the high the school classroom and to reflect the new Common Core Standards. But is this change actually going to increase opportunities for all high school students to be admitted to college? Possibly not.
There may be problems for students who are from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. Why?
- First, this test will be new, and strategies for taking the test will not be well-known by public high school staffs. However, those who tutor and give test prep, will be quickly be evaluating new strategies to succeed on the test. Students who can afford to go to such tutors will have an advantage over students who cannot.
- Secondly, because the Common Core is just being implemented in schools, it will be schools with money for teacher training and for newer text books focusing on the new standards that will catch up most quickly to give their students a leg up. Poorer school districts may lag behind or never catch up.
The new math section may also cause problems, especially for students who do not speak English as their first language. The new SAT will cover more breadth and less depth in math. For students and teachers used to depth in several math areas such as geometry and algebra, there will be a shift into using more figures and equations to problem solve and explain process. This shift will take time and be particularly hard for students who are not used to using language in math class to articulate their thinking. Teachers will also have to have training to transition into using language as much as numbers to educate students for the test. This will take time and monies and will hamper students who are not language proficient. Finally, more emphasis will be on using calculators, and students and schools not able to afford such instruments will be starting from a disadvantage.
The old SAT used to identify a student’s ability apart from his or her formal education. Students from poorer quality schools could still show their readiness for a college education. The new test could take that edge away from poorer students, at least until there is catch up.