The new SAT: Rigor gets a pass
Newly announced changes to the SAT move the college-entrance exam in the wrong direction — dumbing it down when, if anything, it should be more rigorous.
The essay portion, added as a mandatory feature in 2005, becomes optional. But who needs to demonstrate cogent communication skills anyway? The quarter-point penalty for wrong answers is eliminated. So, guess away, kids — you might get lucky! After all, everybody's a winner! And the vocabulary section replaces such words as “prevaricator” and “ignominious” with the likes of “synthesis” and “empirical” — “and probably ‘proletariat,'” The Daily Caller's Eric Owens wryly observes.
These are symptoms of a greater malady: the dumbing down of education in general. It's no coincidence that David Coleman, president of the nonprofit College Board that runs the SAT, was among the leading architects of the abysmal Common Core standards. Cato Institute scholar Neal McCluskey tells The Wall Street Journal that Common Core and the revised SAT both suffer from “lots of rhetoric with lofty goals” and lack “clear evidence” that they will achieve those goals or push students to meet them.
The lofty rhetoric obscures self-interest, too. Aiming to recoup market share lost to the rival ACT, the SAT is becoming more like the ACT.
Instead of motivating students to excel by stiffening the challenge it presents, the SAT is telling them that time-honored measures of intellectual acumen no longer matter. And that's the wrong message to send.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.