These Action Briefs for school leaders are a starting point, designed to increase awareness of the standards, create a sense of urgency around their implementation, and provide these stakeholders — who are faced with dramatically increased expectations in the context of fewer resources — with a deeper understanding of the standards and their role in implementing the standards. Achieve, in partnership with College Summit, the National Association of Secondary School Principals, and the National Association of Elementary School Principals, released this with support from MetLife Foundation.
"New York, NY (August 24, 2015)—A Kaplan Test Prep survey finds that 85% of parents of college-bound students are still unaware that the SAT is changing, even after two years since the change was announced and less than seven months before the new SAT launches in March 2016.* When provided more details about the proposed changes to the SAT, the surveyed parents’ opinions about the new format were divided: 30% say they viewed the changes as something negative or think the exam will be harder; 30% view the changes as something positive; 20% are indifferent; and 15% still don’t know enough to form an opinion. However, views on specific changes reveal that a majority of parents believe the new SAT will be harder:
Math: The current SAT focuses on computational skills and allows students to use a calculator during all sections. The new SAT will focus on advanced algebra, data analysis, and real-world problem solving and calculators will only be permitted for one of two math sections. Fifty-six (56%) percent of parents say these changes make the Math portion of the new SAT harder; 18% say it will become easier; and 26% say it makes no difference.
Reading: The current SAT Reading section includes three 20-25 minute sections of sentence completions, and long- and short-passage reading questions. The new SAT Reading section will last 65 minutes and be made up of long passages followed by reading comprehension questions and will also test understanding of passages from U.S. and World Literature, History/Social Science and Science. Fifty-three (53%) percent of parents say the redesigned SAT Reading section will be harder than the current one; 12% say it will become easier; and 36% say it makes no difference.
Writing and Language/Grammar: The current SAT tests grammar in the form of individual sentence correction. The new SAT will test grammar in the form of passages and will also include questions about structure and reading comprehension. Fifty-three (53%) percent of parents say the Writing and Language/Grammar portion of the new SAT will become harder; 13% say it becomes easier; and 34% say it makes no difference.
Essay: The current SAT essay is required, and asks students to develop a persuasive essay about an issue; facts and grammar have little bearing on the overall score. The new SAT essay is optional, and asks students to read a 650-750 word passage and then prepare a facts-based essay analyzing how the author builds her/his argument. Sixty (60%) percent of parents say the SAT essay will become harder; 15% say the essay will become easier; and 25% say it makes no difference.
No Wrong Answer Penalty: The current SAT includes a ¼ point penalty for wrong answers. The new SAT eliminates the wrong answer point penalty. Fifty-six (56%) percent of parents say this change will make the new SAT easier; 22% say the change will make it harder; and 23% say it makes no difference"...
When George Washington University announced last month that it was adopting a “test-optional” admissions policy, it repeated a standard line made by colleges that allow prospective students to opt out of sending SAT or ACT scores. “The test-optional policy should strengthen and diversify an already outstanding applicant pool and will broaden access for those high-achieving …
Mel Riddile's insight:
In practice, however, colleges have used these policies to become even more exclusive than they previously were. Here’s how schools do it: by freeing prospective students from having to provide SAT and ACT scores, they tend to attract more applicants, many of whom may have scored poorly on the tests. (The University of Georgia study found that these schools “receive approximately 220 more applications, on average, after adopting a test-optional policy.”)
Under fire from conservatives, changes are made to AP U.S. History framework.
Facing Conservative Pressure, College Board Revises AP History Test.
The Washington Post (7/31, Layton) reports that on Thursday the college board released “a new version” of its AP history course, noting that it has been “under fire during the past year from conservatives for revisions it made” to the course in 2014. The piece notes that conservatives “slammed the 2014 Advanced Placement history course saying it overemphasized negative aspects of US history.” The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (7/31) also covers this story.
A new survey conducted for Achieve shows that most college instructors and employers believe students come to campus and the workplace with at least some gaps in preparation.
Mel Riddile's insight:
More than three-quarters all all college instructors polled said they were dissatisfied with their students' abilities in critical thinking, comprehension of complicated materials, work and study habits, writing, written communication, and problem solving. This reflects a level of dissatisfaction that is 10 percentage points higher than when instructors were pollled by Achieve in 2004.
As many educators predicted, scores on the state's standardized tests plummeted this year, the first time the exams were aligned with the rigorous Pennsylvania Core Standards.
Pennsylvania Test Scores Drop In First Year Implementing New Standards.
The Allentown (PA) Morning Call (7/15, Palochko) reported Pennsylvania test scores “plummeted this year, the first time the exams were aligned with the rigorous Pennsylvania Core Standards.” Many educators predicted the lower scores, especially in math, which fell by 34%.
Results for some of the states that participated in Common Core-aligned testing for the first time this spring are out, with overall scores higher than expected though still below what many parents may be accustomed to seeing.
The testing consortium approves cut scores for the high school test, but can't disclose yet what they are, since the point system--and spring performance data--are still being finalized.
"The threshold scores for each high school performance level were recommended by panels of teachers who were nominated by their states and convened in Denver last month. They examined test questions, analyzed their difficulty and suggested cut points that would place students in the five performance levels, which describe how ready they are for college. The "mid range" recommendations of those teachers were the levels that were adopted by PARCC representatives today, Nellhaus said."
"Neither university faculty nor employers believe that American public high schools are preparing students for the expectations they'll face in college and career.
In fact, compared to 2004, the assessment is even more dismal. More than a decade ago, for example, only 28 percent of college instructors stated that schools were doing an adequate job of readying students for what came next after high school. That count is down to 14 percent in 2015.
Among employers, 49 percent in 2004 said that schools were adequately preparing students for what they would need for work; in 2015, the count was 29 percent.
Part of the challenge, say students themselves, is that their high schools don't set academic expectations high enough. Fifty-four percent said that they were only "somewhat challenged"; 20 percent said it was "easy to slide by.""
The Governor's Council on Common Core Review, chaired by Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin, arrives at a bold conclusion: The Department of Education needs to review Common Core.
Mel Riddile's insight:
Arkansas Common Core Task Force Votes To Keep Standards.
The Arkansas Times (7/30) reports that the Arkansas Governor’s Council on Common Core Review voted this week to recommend that the state retain the standards while the Arkansas Department of Education conducts “a comprehensive review of the standards with the goal of revising, improving and replacing” them “as warranted.” The article points out that the panel took 40 hours of hearings around the state to essentially punt the decision back to the state DOE, suggesting that the lack of action can be attributed to the standards being “a political hot potato.”
The AP (7/30, DeMillo) reports that the panel approved “recommendations that called for the state’s ‘complete and unfettered control’ over the standards, but didn’t call for an outright end to the use of Common Core.” The piece reports that Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin, who chaired the panel, “said he didn’t think it makes sense for the state to drop Common Core before it reviews how to replace the standards.” KTHV-TV Little Rock, AR (7/30) also covers this story.
A new study found that in two-year colleges, only 4 percent of instructors found students "most generally able to do what is expected." The number was slightly higher in four-year schools: 12 percent. The rest reported that students had arrived to higher ed with at least some gaps in preparation.
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