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posted by Cactus on Friday March 07 2014, @04:30AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the uphill-in-the-snow-both-ways dept.

Papas Fritas writes:

"Kimberly Hefling reports from AP that the SAT college entrance exam is undergoing sweeping revisions in the first major update since 2005. College Board officials say that this is needed to make the exam more representative of what students study in high school and the skills they need to succeed in college and afterward.

The test should offer "worthy challenges, not artificial obstacles," says College Board President David Coleman. Scoring will return to a 1,600-point scale last used in 2004. There will be a separate score for the optional essay and students will have the option of taking the test on computers. One of the biggest changes in the SAT is that the extra penalty for wrong answers, which discouraged guessing, will be eliminated and some vocabulary words will be replaced with words such as "synthesis" and "empirical" that are used more widely in classrooms and in work settings. Some high school and college admissions counselors say eliminating the penalty for wrong answers and making the essay optional could make the test less stressful for some students.

College Board is also partnering with Khan Academy to address one of the greatest inequities around college entrance exams, namely the culture and practice of high-priced test preparation which critics call a tool to protect the interests of the elite. "For too long, there's been a well-known imbalance between students who could afford test-prep courses and those who couldn't," says Sal Khan, founder and executive director of Khan Academy, "We're thrilled to collaborate closely with the College Board to level the playing field by making truly world-class test-prep materials freely available to all students."

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  • (Score: 4, Funny) by GeminiDomino on Friday March 07 2014, @05:26AM

    by GeminiDomino (661) on Friday March 07 2014, @05:26AM (#12500)

    Now the next time some snot-nosed PFY decides to start talking smack about "greybeards", we can remind the little shit how they had to nerf exams so the darling little snowflake could handle the stress!

    --
    "We've been attacked by the intelligent, educated segment of our culture"
    • (Score: 3) by GungnirSniper on Friday March 07 2014, @05:33AM

      by GungnirSniper (1671) on Friday March 07 2014, @05:33AM (#12507) Journal

      It will be fun to see the power go out in the middle of these computerized exams. They'll be mass panic attacks and scrambles for inhalers. Back in my day, we breathed in leaded smog, and we liked it!

      • (Score: 5, Funny) by juggs on Friday March 07 2014, @05:57AM

        by juggs (63) on Friday March 07 2014, @05:57AM (#12512) Journal

        PAH! You had it easy.

        In my day there were a hundred and sixty of us living in a shoe box in the middle of the road, had to get up in the morning at ten o'clock at night, half an hour before we went to bed, drink a cup of sulphuric acid, work twenty-nine hours down pit - and then propel ourselves to school using only our tongues cleaning the road as we went. Then spent nineteen hours sat on sharpened bamboo spikes whilst reciting grammar rules. One mistake and we had to peel off our skin and be beaten by the teachers for a week straight and have salt rubbed into us. When we got home our parents would beat us with broken bottles, kill us and dance on our graves. We did this every single day for eons in order to be educated.

        Inhalers schmalers.

        You had it easy. /me doffs hat to the Monty Python team and hopes they don't crucify me for horribly mangling their work.

      • (Score: 2, Interesting) by mister_playboy on Friday March 07 2014, @09:48AM

        by mister_playboy (2664) on Friday March 07 2014, @09:48AM (#12577)

        Back in my day, we breathed in leaded smog, and we liked it!

        You also liked committing violent crimes... http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2013/01/lea d-crime-link-gasoline [motherjones.com]

        • (Score: 2, Interesting) by Pslytely Psycho on Friday March 07 2014, @05:03PM

          by Pslytely Psycho (1218) on Friday March 07 2014, @05:03PM (#12780)

          And because of that, GTA was born. So you too, could live the dream.....

          Seriously though, there does seem to be an undeniable link between the two.
          Which makes me wonder, (correct me if I'm wrong, too lazy to google) I believe China still uses leaded fuel. And I believe they are experiencing and increase in violent crime. Perhaps a good test case for causation over simply correlation?

          (Unless of course, my belief in incorrect, then I guess I would be an unintentional troll?)

          --
          Trump succeeds in making Nixon look respectable, Mission Accomplished!
    • (Score: 5, Informative) by ikanreed on Friday March 07 2014, @03:15PM

      by ikanreed (3164) on Friday March 07 2014, @03:15PM (#12695) Journal

      If and only if you took the thing between 2004 and today, maybe(since essay questions suck). It's not a widely hidden fact that for a long time, the college board has been forced to increase the difficulty of questions to keep up with increasing demands and balance for increasing scores. They use each years' scores to help guide the difficulty of questions on the next year's exam, and that has been a pretty measurable upward trend(especially in math).

      If you took the test in, say 1980, you got a joke of a test compared to what they delivered in, say, 2000.

      here is some history [erikthered.com].

      So those young upstarts you're complaining about had to deal with much more difficult questions.

      • (Score: 1) by GeminiDomino on Saturday March 08 2014, @05:33PM

        by GeminiDomino (661) on Saturday March 08 2014, @05:33PM (#13241)

        Nah, they didn't. I'm not as old as I sound. I took it a couple of times (did fine, but not fine enough for my taste) around in the years around 2000. ;)

         

        --
        "We've been attacked by the intelligent, educated segment of our culture"
  • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Friday March 07 2014, @06:24AM

    by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Friday March 07 2014, @06:24AM (#12516) Journal

    needed to make the exam more representative of what students study in high school and the skills they need to succeed in college and afterward.

    Huh, is this the end of "no kid left behind"? 'Cause I really hope it is: while I resonate strong enough with the good intention of "no kid left behind", I'm old enough to:

    • * see it gamed into the general dumbing of "No kid gets ahead"
    • * to decry the lost potential by this dumbing

    Those kids with parent who can afford test-prep courses will get ahead anyway, only its easier for them to get ahead because the dumbing down of the entire system.

    Want to level the chances of higher education without compromising the level of it?
    The only way one can do it is to have a free public education at all levels but condition the admittance at all higher levels or particular institution by the passing of some exams or tests.
    Furthermore, those tests should be let to the latitude of every institution: the kids will need to prepare based not only on the subjects but also to the level requested by each specific highschool, colege, uni or institute. And they should know before hand what that expected level is and how many "competitors" would there be per each seat available in that highschool or tertiary education school.
    (not going to happen in US any time soon)

    --
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
    • (Score: 1) by Ryuugami on Friday March 07 2014, @08:44AM

      by Ryuugami (2925) on Friday March 07 2014, @08:44AM (#12557)

      Huh, is this the end of "no kid left behind"?

      Doesn't seem like it. Observe:

      Some high school and college admissions counselors say eliminating the penalty for wrong answers and making the essay optional could make the test less stressful for some students.

      While I do agree with eliminating the penalty for wrong answers and such, the above makes me suspicious of the real intent. It doesn't really seem like they gave up on the "all kids are idiots" policy, and that can only mean more trouble ahead.

      --
      If a shit storm's on the horizon, it's good to know far enough ahead you can at least bring along an umbrella. - D.Weber
      • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 07 2014, @09:22AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 07 2014, @09:22AM (#12567)

        While I do agree with eliminating the penalty for wrong answers

        Why? It seems to be logical to me. Note that in real life, a wrong answer can also be worse than a simple "I don't know". For example, if you don't know whether that bridge over there is stable enough to drive with my car over it, I certainly prefer "I don't know" to "Yes" if the true answer is "No".

        • (Score: 1) by Ryuugami on Friday March 07 2014, @12:01PM

          by Ryuugami (2925) on Friday March 07 2014, @12:01PM (#12610)

          Well, it may be just because I don't actually know what those tests look like. For multiple choice questions, if you are asked when the French Revolution was and one of the answers offered was 1798, should you be penalized for marking it? It's only a few years difference, for an event over 200 years in the past. Likewise, if you lose a sign in a math problem and your (wrong) answer is one of the provided ones but you did everything else right, should you be penalized for it?

          In both cases, a zero seems to be penalty enough to me. If there are enough answers offered, those who try to rely on guessing won't go far in any case (as explained in this xkcd "what if?" [xkcd.com]), so I don't see much of a point anyway. It just discourages those who have enough knowledge to make an educated guess, but not enough to be 100% certain.

          What I want to say is, while "Yes", "No", and "I don't know" are great, unambiguous choices, sometimes "Probably" is good enough. Not always, but sometimes.

          --
          If a shit storm's on the horizon, it's good to know far enough ahead you can at least bring along an umbrella. - D.Weber
          • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Thexalon on Friday March 07 2014, @12:44PM

            by Thexalon (636) on Friday March 07 2014, @12:44PM (#12622)

            Those aren't the sort of questions asked, because the SAT is supposed to be measuring aptitude, not trivia. For example, they're trying to make sure students can comprehend what they read and juggle algebraic equations in their heads, not whether they know what a pluperfect subjunctive is.

            I thoroughly disagree with the changes, which I suspect were made because students were opting for the ACT instead of the SAT because the ACT was perceived as an easier test. Some of the problems I have:
            - I believe that skipping a question (i.e. admitting "I don't know") is indeed less wrong than guessing wrong.

            - The "obscure" vocabulary used in the test isn't all that obscure or unusual in academic writing. The difference between the right word and the almost-right word can be critical to comprehending the nuances of language, so including those words is in fact testing the ability of a student to understand what they read.

            - Writing should absolutely remained a part of the test. College students who cannot write a decent essay are absolutely crippled in their studies. Back in my college days, I would regularly see the drivel they came up with on the shared printers on the very last day to submit final papers.

            --
            The inverse of "I told you so" is "Nobody could have predicted"
            • (Score: 3, Insightful) by VLM on Friday March 07 2014, @01:37PM

              by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Friday March 07 2014, @01:37PM (#12643)

              "isn't all that obscure or unusual in academic writing."

              This may fit in with the cultural shift from university as a preparation or filter for academic jobs, to the more modern, now you need a very expensive vocational training credential to do the same job high school grads used to do.

      • (Score: 2, Interesting) by Hawkwind on Friday March 07 2014, @04:42PM

        by Hawkwind (3531) on Friday March 07 2014, @04:42PM (#12769)

        There are some definite moves to make the questions more accessible. An example:


        • Passages of writing used for various parts of the exam will be texts from significant moments in American history or science, not the somewhat random selections that now appear. Each exam will feature works such as the Declaration of Independence or a selection from the Federalist Papers, or Martin Luther King Jr.'s "Letter from a Birmingham Jail."

         

        I'm OK with the writing changes. Per the College Board admissions officers were split on whether the writing test was valuable, and the changes made should remove some of the silliness: Fooling the College Board [insidehighered.com].

        As to the point that this is about the ACT, that's my take also. A good eight point summary and analysis can be found at http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2014/03/06/coll ege-board-unveils-plans-new-sat-including-complete ly-revamped-writing-test [insidehighered.com].

    • (Score: -1, Flamebait) by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 07 2014, @09:05AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 07 2014, @09:05AM (#12562)
      Well fuck that. I'm not paying for everyones education so we can have a better world long after i'm dead.
      • (Score: 3, Insightful) by c0lo on Friday March 07 2014, @10:11AM

        by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Friday March 07 2014, @10:11AM (#12582) Journal

        so we can have a better world long after i'm dead.

        (grin) [imgur.com]

        --
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
    • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 07 2014, @04:55PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 07 2014, @04:55PM (#12775)

      >The only way one can do it is to have a free public education at all levels but condition the admittance at all higher levels or particular institution by the passing of some exams or tests.

      Not necessarily - things like the "pay it forward" proposals where you pay N% of your post-college income for M years have great potential for eliminating income-based disparity, while also being far from free, and giving colleges major incentive to help their graduates find good paying jobs. Which is not necessarily 100% aligned with helping their graduates find *good* jobs, but a heck of a lot better than the current situation where you mostly cease to be relevant to them once you graduate, except to hope you'll become one of those unlikely rich alumni who can donate new administration buildings.

      Such strategies of course still "discriminate" against the academically uninterested/incompetent, but I would suggest that, media conditioning aside, college really isn't for everyone. If you don't have a mind inclined to academic achievement then you are unlikely to be happy or successful in the sort of job a traditional degree will rationally help you get. Trade schools on the other hand can cultivate what may be far more useful knowledge at a fraction of the cost, and still give you a piece of paper that says "see, I was able to show up to class regularly without any truancy officers involved".

  • (Score: 2, Funny) by aristarchus on Friday March 07 2014, @08:08AM

    by aristarchus (2645) on Friday March 07 2014, @08:08AM (#12542) Journal

    About time. Students today need a real test, something that has real world application and can be leveraged into a drill down to innovation. Something you do not have to read books to pass. Something there is a prize for passing. Welcome to the Scholastic Hunger Aptitude Games Exam! SHAGE! (I tell you, if we can get the broadcast rights, we'll make millions!)

    --
    Someone please explain to Hemo that my AC posts never get moderated because no one understands them. (Stolen AC sig. )
  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Thexalon on Friday March 07 2014, @12:24PM

    by Thexalon (636) on Friday March 07 2014, @12:24PM (#12615)

    I have to enter my PIN Number into the ATM Machine in order to get the money I need to take it!

    --
    The inverse of "I told you so" is "Nobody could have predicted"
  • (Score: 3, Funny) by Papas Fritas on Friday March 07 2014, @02:32PM

    by Papas Fritas (570) on Friday March 07 2014, @02:32PM (#12670) Journal
    Microsoft co-founders Bill Gates and Paul Allen earned scores of 1590 and 1600 [universitylanguage.com].

    Political commentator Bill O'Reilly, had an SAT score of 1585, and political speechwriter Ben Stein, scored a 1573.

    Radio shock jock Howard Stern got an 870 on his combined SAT.