SAT: The New Test Hasn`t Been Tested

Looking through the couple hundreds pages of verbiage that the College Board has released about their revisions to the SAT, I haven`t found any evidence that they`ve tested the new test they`ve announced. It wouldn`t be terribly hard to carry out research to see what kind of questions predict college performance best, but they don`t seem to have done any research whatsoever involving potential questions. They`ve conducted various market research studies (focus groups, surveys, etc.) of what various people say they want in the SAT, but they have done nothing to see if what they`ve announced will actually work. 

There`s an amusing irony here: the SAT is a test used to predict how individuals do. But, as for predicting how the predictor is going to work, well, we`ll just have to wing it. This strikes me as fundamentally irresponsible—nearly a couple of million kids per year take the SAT—but all too typical of contemporary elites in America. 

Here`s a revealing passage from the College Board:

SAT: The New Test Hasn`t Been TestedThe SAT has been redesigned to better align to what research shows students need to know and be able to do in order to be prepared for college and careers. This goal has led to a more focused sat with a balance across fluency, conceptual understanding, and application. In these and other ways, such as embedding mathematical practices, the redesigned sat is also a good reflection of college- and career-ready standards. 

We will continue to be guided by research and evidence as we develop the redesigned sat. In the months leading up to its release, for example, we may find through research that we need to adjust elements described in this document, such as time limits, number of questions or tasks, or scores reported. When and if we make these or other changes, we will do so solely to enhance the validity evidence supporting the test for its intended purposes, and we will communicate those changes as widely as possible and in a timely manner.

In other words, the College Board is flying blind here. David Coleman feels like these are good changes to make, but nobody has actually tested the new boss`s brainstorms. They may quietly deepsix some of the innovations. Or then again, they may find they have too much prestige invested in the “reforms” they trumpeted in 2014 to get rid of them, so they may keep them to avoid admitting mistakes. After all, they`re just playing around with the lives of young people, so who needs to be careful?

Concordance 

Because the redesigned SAT is a different test than the current SAT, a numerical score on one test will not be equivalent to the same numerical score on the other. Therefore, to help higher education admission officers, k–12 educators and counselors, and students and parents transition to the new test scores, we will be providing a concordance between the scores on the current sat and the redesigned sat that shows how to relate the scores of one test to the scores of the other. … The concordance information will be released immediately after the first operational administration of the redesigned sat in 2016. 

Ready, Fire, Aim.

The good news is that it`s hard to screw up an IQ-type test completely. As Robert Gordon says, Life is an IQ test, and there are such large differences in IQ among individuals that just about any collection of questions will sort people in a rough rank order of smartness. But, still … shouldn`t we be getting smarter about intelligence, not stupider?