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09 March 2014 @ 08:05 am
KHAN!!!!!!! and the SAT  
Since David Coleman announced his plans to change the nature of the SAT, there have been dozens of stories and interviews and segments on TV. I did a Google search which yielded some interesting results, ones that mirror the history of this test (and other college entrance exams, too). Here is a screen shot of the first 7 results of the search.

Screen Shot 2014-03-08 at 8.08.38 AM

David Coleman announced a while ago that he intended to "reform" the SAT. That should have been the first clue of what was to come. To be sure, his announcement was so carefully crafter and so clever that many in the press were dazzled, more blinded, by Coleman's proposition. Free prep! No more arcane vocabulary. Buh-bye writing portion. Well, folks, if it all seems too good to be true, IT IS. If one does a pardon the expression, close reading, here is what is more evident beneath the glossy dazzling surface.

1. The new SAT will mirror what students are learning in high school. That would be CCSS, folks. So, by "reforming" the SAT, Coleman in effect makes sure that CCSS becomes THE curriculum of high school classrooms. This is a smart move for him, and a death knell for anything that is not part of CCSS as implemented. And it means the SAT is the granddaddy of all the new tests being created for CCSS.

2. Free prep? Somewhere there is money that has to trade hands. I doubt that the Khan Academy (did you catch the Star Trek reference in the title of this post?) is doing this as philanthropy. Add in concerns about everything being done in front of a computer, the possibility of massive prep classes. And how will Khan be paid for their prep? My Spidey sense is already tingling.

3. No matter the factor, GPA, SAT, ACT: none of these has predictive value when it comes to college success. They do measure, in large part, family income. But there is no guarantee that the kids scoring high are the one that are most successful at the college level. There are longitudinal studies about the lack of efficacy of the scores in terms of predicting success. Why are we still using them?

4. If you notice the hits from Google in the screen shot, SAT scores pretty much debunked the "reforms" of NCLB. I wonder if perhaps changing the SAT will prevent it from being used to demonstrate that RttT and CCSS are less than effective as well?

My own former residents of the back bedroom took AP courses in high school. They could have placed out of freshman courses. I advised them NOT to do so. First, I think the freshman courses, particularly in English, are important ones for new college students. In the case of my own college kids, they got to see Day One that their high school's assertions of "you will need this in college, this is how things are done in college," was bunk. College courses in rhetoric and composition have evolved since the 1950s (even though the HS curriculum my kids had seemed stuck in decades old pedagogy). I think taking those early courses are a bot of getting feet wet so to speak. I also do not see benefit in graduating early (but them my kids are attending a university we can afford without major loans and debt). Kids need the experience of growing up before entering the work force. I think the time they spend at the university help them.

I know I might be a lone voice here. But I do not believe in pushing kids. I hate things like Kindergarten "readiness." Ditto making middle schools into junior high schools. Add to that dual credit enrollment. All of this serves to push kids further and faster IMHO. By all means, let's enrich the school programs. Let kids take summer courses at the college when they are in high school IF THEY WISH TO DO SO. But I think time might better be spent in giving kids the chance to read more, to explore different ways of communication, to do more service, and to investigate topics that are given short shrift in our race to push kids through faster and faster.

It boils down to this for me: reflection. Do we give time for kids to reflect on their learning? Real time? Sufficient time? As I was talking on the phone to my friend and wise woman, Donalyn Miller, this week, that word kept popping into my brain. I grabbed a notebook and jotted it down. One of the things that deepens my understanding is the chance to reflect on "things." I worry there is precious little time for kids to reflect?
 
 
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