Monday, May 18, 2009

Delay in Introduction of College Board 8th Grade Test


It was a wise choice of the College Board to delay the introduction of ReadiStep, the 8th grade version of the SAT. When is it that we decide as a country that there is simply too much testing?

In New Jersey, as in many states, there is testing every year of schooling after the 1st grade. In the junior year of high school, the state has proposed testing in virtually every subject area, rolling out tests in Biology, Algebra I and Algebra II and proposing perhaps a dozen more.

At what point do we determine that testing becomes a distraction from learning rather than an assessment of it? The College Board stated that ReadiStep is not a Pre-PSAT, but, truly, what is their legitimacy on this issue?

Since exploring for-profit business opportunities with its website collegeboard.com (the website is now not-for-profit) the organization's mission has come under scrutiny.

The College Board has rejected modular testing with a series of post-hoc arguments that fail all logic tests. They have taken the worst aspect of the ACT as their own, Score Choice, leaving one to the conclusion that they desired to dramatically increase revenue gained from sending test scores with minimal increase in costs.

So the decision to delay (and hopefully scrap) ReadiStep should be applauded by the educational community. 8th grade is way too soon to begin thinking about college admissions tests and, despite all their protestations that this was not the purpose of this test, the College Board clearly knew that would be its effect. If the College Board is looking for some new initiatives to aid students, maybe they should consider these:

1) Allow modular testing, with students re-testing on the SAT in only the section(s) they need or want to re-test.

2) Eliminate Score Choice. It only will increase the student frequency and emphasis on testing.

3) Eliminate the penalty for guessing

4) Work with the states and federal government to have one test to be used both for high school graduation and college admissions. Then maybe the educational community will stop questioning the motives of the College Board.

To date, I have had no reason to believe that any decisions the College Board has made as an organization are made for anything but business reasons. When they pretend to act as agents of the educational community rather than as a business seeking to maximize profits, they really are acting as wolves in sheep's clothing.

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