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College Board Will Offer a New Test Next Fall

Ohanian Comment: Kudos to Rimer for pointing out a couple of pathetic conflicts of interest here. This rarely happens. Maybe all the attention the pharmaceutical industry conflicts with university folk has been getting lately will alert more reporters to mention the conflicts rife in education circles.

President of the College Board Gaston Caperton is former governor of West Virginia. Before going into politics he owned an insurance company, a bank, and a mortgage banking company. I witnessed his teacher bashing first hand at the Annual Meeting of Education Reporters, Writers and Editors.

As I've noted on this site, Caperton already doubled the College Board's coffers with new programs, but now he's after more.

NOTE: This new test from the College Board is aligned with the English Language Arts and Mathematics College Board Standards for College Successâ¢. Note that these standards are trademarked. Also note that several members of the standards committee are also members of the SAT Reading Test Development Committee.

The College Boards touts this new test a "Formatted in three multiple-choice sections â reading, writing and mathematics. No essays or student-produced responses." Well, for goodness sakes, Molly, we certainly wouldn't want to use messy student responses when deciding students' strengths and weaknesses. The College Board claims that this test, containing no student-produced responses, "gives teachers insight into studentsâ academic progress." AND it "Helps create a college-going culture." And by the way, it also "provides firsthand practice for the SAT®."

Not satisfied with inflicting Advanced Placement classes on high schoolers, with big grants from the Bill and Melinds Gates Foundation, the College Board has moved in on middle schools with curriculum, schools, and now this new test that prides itself for containing no student-produced responses.

I want to weep but I decided to get angry instead.

By Sara Rimer

Amid growing challenges to its role as the pre-eminent force in college admissions, the College Board on Wednesday unveiled a new test that it said would help prepare eighth graders for rigorous high school courses and college.

The test, which will be available to schools next fall, is intended only for assessment and instructional purposes and has nothing to do with college admissions, College Board officials said.

âThis is not at all a pre-pre-pre SAT,â Lee Jones, a College Board vice president, said at a news conference. âItâs a diagnostic tool to provide information about studentsâ strengths and weaknesses.â

The College Board, which owns the SAT and PSAT, made its announcement when an increasing percentage of high school students are taking the rival ACT and amid mounting concern over what critics call the misuses of the SAT and ACT and other standardized tests in college admissions.

Those critics dismissed the new test for eighth graders as just what Dr. Jones said it was not: âa pre-pre-pre SAT.â

âWho needs yet another pre-college standardized exam when there is already a pre-SAT and the SAT test itself?â said Robert Schaeffer, the public education director of FairTest, a nonpartisan group that has called for colleges and universities to make standardized tests optional for admissions. âThe new test will only accelerate the college admissions arms race and push it down onto ever younger children.â

The new test, called ReadiStep, can be completed within two hours and is divided into three multiple-choice sections of critical reading, writing skills and mathematics.

It will cost less than $10 per student, College Board officials said, and schools and districts will pay for it. College Board officials described the test as voluntary and âlow-stakes,â and said the results would be shared only with teachers, parents, students and schools.

Gaston Caperton, the president of the College Board, said the new test had been developed in response to the demand from schools and districts, which he said had requested a âtool that would help them determine before high school what measures should be taken to ensure that students are on the path to being college ready.â

Mr. Caperton and other officials refused to identify any of the schools and districts that had requested the test. They said that they had done market research in âwell over 1,000 schools and districts,â and that âwell over 50 percentâ of them had expressed strong interest in the new test.

Officials offered to provide the names of educators from interested schools and districts, and subsequently made available two people: Susan Rusk, the coordinator of counseling for the Washoe County School District in Reno, Nev., and James R. Choike, a professor of mathematics at Oklahoma State University.

Mrs. Rusk is on the College Boardâs board of trustees, and Dr. Choike helped develop ReadiStep.

The Washoe County School District made the PSAT mandatory for all 10th graders a couple of years ago, Mrs. Rusk said, and pays for students to take the test.

She said she thought the new test could inform parents and teachers about whether âkids are on track with the particular skills they would need as they go forward into taking the PSAT and SAT and being ready for college.â

John DâAuria, a former principal of Wellesley Middle School, in suburban Boston, and now the superintendent of schools in Canton, Mass., said that with all the testing currently in place, he was skeptical about the need for the College Boardâs new offering.

âItâs all about sorting and finding out who the talented are,â Mr. DâAuria said, ârather than trying to build into young kids the lifelong journey of learning.â

— Sara Rimer
New York Times




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