In an effort to win market share, the College Board, along with the standardized testing industry and the corporate education reform advocates are pushing states are mandate that high school juniors MUST take the SAT. Connecticut, Colorado, Michigan and New Hampshire are among the states throwing their students under the bus.
In Connecticut, thanks to a new “state mandate,” approximately 40,000 Connecticut high school juniors will not be attending their classes on March, 2, 2016. Instead they will be taking another “Common Core aligned” standardized test – this time the NEW SAT.
The attempt to force the state’s 11th graders to take the NEW SAT is not about helping students, improving graduating rates or expanding the number of people who go to college.
This new “mandate” is part of the broader corporate education reform agenda that is crippling public education in Connecticut and across the nation.
In this case, it is about trying to force children to take a test that will then be used to label those students and provide the state with faulty information to evaluate Connecticut’s teachers.
Parents should be aware of what is taking place and step up to ensure that our children are not being used as pawns in this massive testing farce.
Here is the background;
Thanks to a contract signed by Governor Dannel Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Dianna R. Wentzell and approved by Malloy’s political appointees on the State Board of Education, Connecticut taxpayers will be shelling out in excess of $4.3 million in scarce public funds, over the next three years, to the College Board, the company that owns the SAT. In return, the College Board will allow students to take their NEW SAT — a test that has yet to be validated and has come under increasing criticism because, despite their claims, the SAT fails to adequately predict how students will do in college.
This latest debacle started last spring when, in the face of growing opposition to the Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) testing scheme, the Connecticut General Assembly and Governor Malloy decided to replace the unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory 11th grade SBAC test with a new mandate that all high school juniors take what is likely to be an equally unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory NEW SAT.
However, neither Governor Malloy, his Commissioner of Education nor the legislators had ever seen the NEW SAT that they are now trying to force 11th grader to take. They hadn’t seen it because the new version of the SAT isn’t even being released until March 2016.
As the College Board website proclaims, students across the United States can take the NEW SAT for the first time on March 5, 2016 which means that Connecticut’s 40,000 juniors are truly little more than an initial round of guinea pigs for a testing company whose revenue is already in excess of $841 million a year.
What is known about the NEW SAT is worrying many experts who are knowledgeable about the standardized testing system and the process that students must go through when applying to college.
Last March, Business Insider’s headline read, America’s top SAT tutor explains why no one should take the SAT in 2016, with internationally renowned SAT tutor Anthony Greene writing;
“I’m recommending that none of my students take the first three rounds of the new SAT (March, May, and June of 2016)… “Why let students be guinea pigs for the College Board’s marketing machine?”
In an April 2015 article in Forbes Magazine, 3 Reasons You Shouldn’t Take the New SAT, Dan Edmonds, the Senior Director of Research and Development at Noodle.com wrote,
The simple fact is that there are numerous good reasons that students shouldn’t take the new SAT next spring — they should opt for the ACT instead. (The primary alternative college entrance example)
And this past fall, Adam Ingersoll of the Compass Group, another SAT tutoring company, warned students not to be guinea pigs for the College Board adding that the best option for most juniors will be the ACT.
There are many reasons to avoid the NEW SAT;
Reason #1 to opt-out of the March 2, 2016 “state mandated” SAT:
Now that the NEW SAT is supposedly aligned to the Common Core students will face many of the same problems that they faced with the Common Core SBAC test. In particular is the reality that there will be a significant amount of content on the NEW SAT that most high school students have not even been taught.
This situation will be most evident when it comes to the math portion of the test.
The NEW SAT merges the reading and writing portion of the old SAT into one section meaning that the Math Section of the NEW SAT will make up a larger portion of a student’s overall score (Half instead of one-third.)
Of even greater concern, the NEW SAT intentionally punishes students who haven’t completed Algebra II and gone on to take some trigonometry, statistics and precalculus.
As fellow education advocate and commentator Wendy Lecker recently explained in The lies in the new SAT (by Wendy Lecker)
Our state leaders also misled us by claiming that the new SAT is appropriate as an accountability exam aligned with Connecticut graduation requirements. Connecticut law requires that, for the current graduating class until the class of 2020, students must complete three credits of mathematics. Algebra II is not required nor is trigonometry or precalculus.
Beginning with the class of 2021, the law specifies that students must take Algebra I and geometry, and either Algebra II or probability and statistics. Algebra II is not a requirement and trigonometry and precalculus are not even mentioned.
Yet the new SAT has a significant amount of Algebra II, and has trigonometry and precalculus. Almost half the math SAT is composed of “advanced math” and “additional topics” both of which have these advanced subjects. By contrast, there is very little geometry.
The new SAT is not aligned with Connecticut graduation requirements. Moreover, choosing this test sets students who have not taken Algebra II before 11th grade up for failure, along with their districts.
Reason #2 to opt-out of the March 2, 2016 “state mandated” SAT:
Governor Malloy, his Commissioner of Education and state legislators said Connecticut’s new SAT testing program would ensure that all 11th graders had an entrance exam score to use when applying to college. That is a bold-faced lie.
Again, as Wendy Lecker also explained:
In December, the State Department of Education (SDE) sent districts a sample letter intended for parents. In it, SDE claimed that “(b) y adopting the SAT, we are eliminating duplicate testing.”
That assertion is false for many Connecticut students and SDE knew that when it wrote this letter. In a separate document sent at the same time but addressed to district leaders, not parents, SDE acknowledged that the vast majority of ELL students taking the SAT with accommodations will be unable to report their scores to colleges, because the College Board does not accept ELL accommodations. Similarly, many students with disabilities using accommodations will not be able to report scores either, as the College Board has more stringent criteria for disability accommodations. For those students, the SAT will only count for state accountability purposes.
The truth is that there will be thousands of Connecticut public school students taking the NEW SAT who will discover that their test score CAN NOT be used with any college application and will only be used to “evaluate” them and their teachers.
Reason #3 to opt-out of the March 2, 2016 “state mandated” SAT:
As high school juniors and their parents’ ramp up their college application activities, they should be aware that an SAT score is no longer needed when applying to many colleges and universities. More and more institutions of higher education are moving away from using the SAT and standardized test scores to determine who to accept.
As FairTest, an organization that monitors to use and overuse of standardized testing has reported, more than 850 colleges and universities in the United State “DO NOT USE the SAT Scores for Admitting Substantial Numbers of Students.”
FairTest goes on to explain that schools are moving away from the use of standardized tests because academic studies have consistently shown that “Test Scores Do Not Equal Merit” and are not appropriate or correct indicators of how students will actually do in college.
In my daughter’s case, of the dozen or so colleges that she is considering applying to, the majority DO NOT require an SAT test.
For those schools that do require a standardized test score, my daughter will be taking the old version of the SAT on February 20, 2015. The last date for taking the old version of the SAT was supposed to be last week (January 23, 2016) but due to the snow storm on Saturday, the testing was postponed until the end of February.
My daughter will also be taking the ACT, a college examination exam that isn’t in the middle of a tumultuous and controversial restructuring.
While she won’t be participating in the SAT test being “mandated” by the state of Connecticut, on March 2, 2016, if we determine that she should take the NEW SAT, then there are plenty of options to take the test in the spring, summer and fall, after the initial problems with the NEW SAT have been identified and resolved.
What we won’t do is serve as pawns for the state of Connecticut’s attempt to collect standardized tests results so that they can unfairly evaluate teachers. Governor Malloy’s “education reform initiative” requires local school district to base 22.5 percent of a teacher’s evaluation on the standardized test results of their students.
My daughter won’t be relegated to being a test subject for the College Board’s attempt to reclaim market share.
Instead, we will do what is best for my daughter’s college aspirations – the state and its testing obsession be damned.
Reason #4 to opt-out of the March 2, 2016 “state mandated” SAT:
Another key issue for students and parents to understand is that for students whose college “wish list” includes schools that DO REQUIRE an SAT score, a significant number of schools require or recommend that students complete the “optional” essay that will now be part of the SAT going forward.
But students taking the “mandated” NEW SAT on March 2, 2016 will find that there is no “optional” essay to take. The Malloy administration’s contract with the College Board does not even provide Connecticut students with the opportunity to take the “optional” essay – an “option” that is anything but optional at a number of schools that actually require students to submit standardized test results.
In an October 2015 published report of the colleges and universities that do require that standardized tests scores accompany applications, approximately 34 percent recommend or require that students take the essay portion of the tests.
Furthermore, the executive director of college admissions programs at Kaplan Test Prep suggested that,
“One thing to consider is that an optional but more challenging section provides an opportunity for students who are good writers and analysts to distinguish themselves. Schools appreciate applicants who challenge themselves, so earning a high score on an optional section can factor favorably on an application.”
Students who want or need to take the “optional essay” portion of the NEW SAT are simply out of luck when it comes to the state mandated March SAT.
By rushing to “mandate” that high school juniors take the NEW SAT, the state of Connecticut has created a situation in which thousands of students that require special education services or are not proficient in the English language will find out that their mandated NEW SAT score can’t even be used in a college application.
And, at the same time, many Connecticut high school juniors who do want to take the “optional” SAT essay will learn that they will have to take the SAT yet again, this time paying for both the cost of the NEW SAT and the cost of the “Optional” SAT essay.
As an FYI, the list of schools requiring the “optional” SAT essay includes:
Stanford University, University of California, California Institute of Technology, Howard University, University of South Florida, Emory University, Purdue University, Amherst College, Harvard College, Merrimack College, Nichols College, Macalester College, Duke University, Dartmouth College, Rutgers University, Princeton University, Iona College, SUNY University at Stony Brook, University of Cincinnati, Arcadia University, Vanderbilt University, Baylor University, Rice University, Texas A&M University, Saint Michael’s College (VT), University of Oregon, University of Washington and Yale University.
Reason #5 to opt-out of the March 2, 2016 “state mandated” SAT:
Finally, as to the critically important issue of whether high school juniors MUST participate in the absurd March 2nd NEW SAT testing frenzy;
The Malloy administration continues to claim that students cannot be opted out of the NEW SAT testing program. Some school administrators are going even further threatening students that they will not be able to graduate if they don’t take the NEW SAT on March 2, 2016
These threats are not only unethical and immoral but they are false.
First, as has been posted here at Wait, What? over and over again;
There is no federal or state law, regulation or legal policy that prohibits parents from opting their children out of the unfair, discriminatory and inappropriate Common Core testing program – and that includes the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) tests for grades 3-8 and the new SAT for grade 11.
Even the chairman of the State Board of Education, a lawyer, has admitted that Connecticut parents have the fundamental and inalienable right to opt their children out of the state’s testing program.
If the Malloy administration believes it has the legal authority to override parental rights then they need to publish that claim so that parents can take legal action and obtain an injunction against Governor Malloy and his Department of Education.
Second, Connecticut state law specifically prohibits school districts from preventing students from graduating or being promoted to the next grade because the fail to take the state’s “Mastery Test.”
Connecticut State Statute Sec. 10-14n Connecticut State Statute reads:
As used in this section, “mastery examination” means an examination or examinations, approved by the State Board of Education, that measure essential and grade-appropriate skills in reading, writing, mathematics or science.
(e) No public school may require achievement of a satisfactory score on a mastery examination, or any subsequent retest on a component of such examination as the sole criterion of promotion or graduation.
While Malloy and his administration continue to mislead and lie to parents about the new Common Core testing programs, the NEW SAT is simply not a Mastery Test under the law.
No one has seen the NEW SAT but we can be sure it is not aligned to Connecticut’s curriculum and does not measure “essential and grade-appropriate skills.”
As reported above, the NEW SAT includes content that is not even required under Connecticut’s graduation requirements. (I.E. students do not need to take Algebra II, Trigonometry and precalculus in order to graduate from a Connecticut high school).
In addition, the Commissioner of Education has not set the “cut scores” that identify if a student has or has not achieve a proficient score. The Commissioner has added that the “cut scores” will not be set until after the testing has been completed.
The state of Connecticut cannot claim that the NEW SAT is the state’s Mastery Test when the state can’t even identify what is or what is not “mastery.”
Also, school districts cannot require that a student take the NEW SAT in order to graduate.
Requiring that a student take the test to graduate or be promoted to the next grade makes taking the test a mandatory criteria, something state law forbids.
The statute reads;
“No public school may require…such examination as the sole criterion of promotion or graduation.”
By refusing to allow a student to graduate unless they take the NEW SAT makes taking the NEW SAT a “SOLE CRITERION” for graduation and is therefore illegal.
The “mandate” that high school juniors take the NEW SAT is not to benefit our students or our schools. It is truly a part of the broader agenda that is undermining public education in Connecticut.
These initiatives actually hurt our students, parents, teachers and public schools.
The threats from Governor Malloy, his administration and local school districts have to stop.
Parents, not the Governor, not the Commissioner of Education and not local school officials have the sole authority and discretion to decide if a student is or is not going to take the NEW SAT.
In my case, my daughter WILL NOT be taking the NEW SAT on March 2, 2016 and I would recommend that other parents of high school juniors consider taking the same step.