By Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer, Curriki
The College Board has announced major changes to the SAT format (sometimes called SATs, and officially the SAT Reasoning test) beginning in 2016. The test is very widely used in college admissions in the U.S. Many have argued that the results of the test are given too high a weight in admissions. Research indicates that high school grades are much better correlated with college performance than SAT scores. But the SAT is here to stay, and will remain of major importance in determining where high school graduates can attend college or university. The new set of tests will revert to a maximum score of 1600 based on the combination of the math and the English reading/writing sections. The essay portion of the exams will remain, but become optional, while also more rigorous.
Much of the motivation toward redefining the test is in an attempt to level the playing field and deliver opportunity for students coming from various economic and cultural backgrounds. See the College Board web site for their thoughts around this issue. There is an excellent article from the NY Times discussing the story of how the new version of the SAT came to be.
In addition to the issue of how much to weight the SAT and its competitor, the ACT, are given in admissions, there have long been concerns that the affluent have a double advantage in taking either of these tests. First, they are generally attending better schools than less privileged students, and have been exposed to more difficult concepts in math and more difficult vocabulary. And second, a whole SAT preparation industry has been around for decades – almost since the first SAT was introduced in 1926 – to help students improve their scores on the exams.
Many students attend training sessions for several weeks in the hopes of gaining an edge by increasing their scores by 20 or even 50 points per section. Some firms in the test preparation industry offer money back guarantees of improving scores by 50 points per section, although research indicates that the average gain from such preparation is a total of 30 points across the current 3 sections of the SAT. Still, even a modest improvement can be the difference between getting in to that higher ranked school or not. The courses easily run several hundreds of dollars, and the parents of students from lower economic strata generally cannot afford to send their children to these SAT preparation sessions.
In order to help level the playing field, the College Board and the Salman Khan Foundation have announced an initiative to make freely available SAT preparation materials and videos via the Web. Here’s a brief video including an interview with Salman Khan.
Curriki applauds this initiative from these two organizations. We would also like to let you know that there are a number of SAT-related resources on Curriki. Just go to our site and search for “SAT” and you will find resources such as:
1. Vocabulary resource – http://www.curriki.org/xwiki/bin/view/Coll_trish1/SATpreparationshelpfulforenglish
2. Vocabulary and SAT prep – http://www.curriki.org/xwiki/bin/view/Coll_Group_NassauBOCESCurriculumAreaProjectsCAP/Gr10-12VocabularyandSATPrep
3. Word Dynamo – http://www.curriki.org/xwiki/bin/view/Coll_jennifermorgan/SATStudyGuidesWordDynamo
Posted in Ed Tech, Open Source Education
Tagged college admissions, college board, college entrance exams, Curriki, digital learning, edtech, English, Khan Academy, math, OER, SAT, SAT preparation, SAT Reasoning test, SAT scores
By Kim Jones, CEO of Curriki
A recent study found that American high school students are, unfortunately, reading at roughly the 5th grade level. The study looked at the most popular 40 books that grade 9 through grade 12 teens are reading and found the average grade level of this collection is just 5.3.
The report, from Renaissance Learning, is titled What Kids Are Reading: The Book-Reading Habits of Students in American Schools, and is available here.
A slideshow of the top 20 books on the list, and their respective grade levels, is at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/22/top-reading_n_1373680.html#slide
“The single most important predictor of student success in college is their ability to read a range of complex text with understanding,” writes David Coleman, a contributor to Common Core State Standards and commentator on the study. “If you examine the top 40 lists of what students are reading today in 6th–12th grade, you will find much of it is not complex enough to prepare them for the rigors of college and career.”
To help ensure your students are reading at an appropriate level for high school, there is a wealth of reading resources at Curriki. A good starting point is
Within this set of resources you will find units on The Great Gatsby, Invisible Man, A Separate Peace, The Kite Runner and other novels, as well as poetry resources. (Note that April is National Poetry month in the US.) Take a look and help your students move up to an appropriate reading level.
Hal-low-een (n): an annual holiday observed on October 31. It has its roots in the Celtic festival Samhain and All Saints’ Day…
The night of ghost and ghouls, witches and warlocks, jack-o-lanterns and jokes inspires fear and creativity across the country year after year.
How did the modern Halloween tradition begin? What haunted traditions from the dark ages shape our celebration of the holiday today? How did an ancient harvest festival take such a terrifying turn? Watch The Haunted History of Halloween and trace the origins of the autumn holiday, from the Druids and Romans to the Monster Mash and Scream.
The swirling mists of cold autumn nights have inspired artists and poets for ages. The changing seasons, the uncertainty of the coming winter, the cold winds draw out tales of otherworldly, frightening experiences.
In American literature, no author gave a more powerful, haunting voice to these forces than Edgar Allan Poe. Poe pioneered the horror genre with such unsettling classics as The Raven and The Fall of the House of Usher.
After reading Poe’s work, encourage your students to craft their own horror stories, in the tradition of Edgar Allan Poe, just in time to spook their friends and teachers for Halloween.
Encourage literary and digital creations following the example of the Raven on the Simpsons or the Alan Parsons Project students can create their own spooky representations of Poe’s work.
Trick or Treat!
Have you used a Curriki resource recently? Review it!
Like what you read? Become a fan of Curriki on Facebook!
Curriki Goes Global!
Did you know that Curriki is host to hundreds of Open Educational Resources on language learning for all ability levels?
Acquiring a foreign language is one of the most personally and culturally rewarding tasks that we can put our minds to. In our increasingly globalized community, the camaraderie and understanding that comes with being able to communicate across cultures is a powerful tool in all global pursuits, be it travel, business, or education.
Increase your global awareness with World Language resources in and on a variety of languages, from Spanish to Chinese, German to Arabic, English to Indonesian, and more!
- Curriki is always looking to build its collection of educational resources for students, teachers and parents. If you have great resources on learning world languages and want to make it available to a global community of learners and educators, contribute to Curriki today!
Like what you read? Become a fan of Curriki on Facebook!
Image by: Curriki via Wordle