Next Saturday, the Educational Testing Service will unleash a new version of the SAT*, that ritualistic maze standing between high school and college, on students all over the country. The "new" version includes a writing test where students must compose an essay addressing a specific topic, and a longer reading comprehension section. New also is the fact that the top score on the test goes from 1600 to 2400.
Patrick Welsh, an English teacher at a very large high school just up the road from here and occasional columnist for the Post, doesn’t think too much of the SAT and the "new" in this latest edition. Welsh has something of an inside view of things since for the past couple of months he’s spent his Saturday mornings helping 16- and 17-year old students at his school prepare for the test.
During a recent session, I looked around the classroom while the kids were scribbling furiously and suddenly felt a little guilty. Some of these youngsters, I know, are under the impression that their whole future depends on succeeding on this test. And I couldn’t help thinking: Here we go again — pushing another supposed testing "innovation," dreamed up by "education experts" who ought to know better, on our hapless students.
The National Center for Fair & Open Testing, a standardized testing watchdog group, calls the New SAT the equivalent of "painting lipstick on a pig" — and as far as I’m concerned, they’re right on the money. The new test doesn’t seem to have been devised to help colleges make better decisions about whom to accept.
He has much more to say about the SAT and testing programs in general. And after more than 30 years in the classroom, Welsh has seen a long line of proposals to improve the reading and writing skills of high school students. Read what he has to say. Instead of W’s ridiculous proposals for extending NCLB’s testing crap into the high schools, we should be asking teachers like Welsh how to improve secondary education.
* I gather that SAT is no longer supposed to be considered an acronym. It’s just the SAT.