The architect of the Common Core standards is reengineering another mainstay of American education — the SAT exam — to reflect the same emphasis on critical thinking and close reading.
David Coleman announced today that beginning in 2016, high school students who plan to apply to college will take a three-hour test that asks them to analyze nonfiction texts, apply mathematical concepts to real-world problems, and use evidence to build an argument — all skills that the Common Core emphasizes. Unlike the current version of the SAT, administered since 2005, students won’t write an essay, know esoteric vocabulary words, or be penalized for wrong answers.
The changes are meant to diminish the role of test-prep, which Coleman said in a speech this afternoon had amplified income inequities in the college admissions process. In addition to changing the test itself, the College Board will provide free tutorials through Khan Academy and pay for low-income students to apply to four colleges.
The changes also have the effect of bringing the SAT more into line with the Common Core standards, which he wrote before he joined the College Board and which 45 states, including New York, have adopted as their own. In New York and elsewhere, the Common Core is experiencing political backlash, and enshrining its values in an all-American rite of passage could improve its prospects for the future.
Here’s our report about one way that the College Board’s recent shifts have played out in New York City schools, where the organization recently ended a program that provided support to individual schools.