Saturday, June 21, 2008

New SAT is A) Better, B) Same, C) Longer?

Definitely check out Fair Test's response to the "'NEW' SAT Validity Study".


Study Shows Exam Has Similar Results Regardless of Essay

June 18, 2008; Page D6

The writing section added to the SAT in 2005 has done very little to improve the exam's overall ability to predict how students will do in college, according to research released Tuesday by the test's owner.

Critics of the SAT seized on the College Board's findings, which came three years after the revamped, nearly four-hour exam made its debut.

"After all their ballyhoo about how the new test was going to be a better tool for college admissions, it's not," said Robert Schaeffer, director of the group FairTest. "It's longer and more expensive. That's all you can say about it."

The College Board defended the SAT, saying that no predictor of college success is perfect but that the exam is a remarkably good one.

It emphasized the finding that the writing test actually does a slightly better job of predicting freshman-year college grade-point average than do the math or critical reading sections, both of which are multiple choice.

"Both tests are very valid -- the old one and the new one," said Laurence Bunin, the senior vice president who oversees the SAT program. "What's important here is that the new SAT places an emphasis on writing" and offers a valid test of another skill that is "critical to college success."

The SAT runs three hours, 45 minutes -- 45 minutes longer than the old version -- and will cost $45 this year and next, up from $29.50. The ACT, the other leading college-admissions exam, has an optional writing section.

The College Board added the writing test, including a 25-minute essay, in order to help colleges make more-finely tuned decisions concerning students' skills.

College admissions officers can even download and read the students' essays. The multiple-choice sections were also changed somewhat in 2005.

The College Board, a not-for-profit group, claimed the test would elevate the place of writing in high school classrooms.

It backed up that argument last year with a survey reporting 88% of teachers said writing had become a bigger priority in their schools.

From the start, however, some teachers criticized the exam, arguing it encouraged formulaic writing and was susceptible to coaching.

The findings released Tuesday are the most comprehensive study yet of the new exam, covering about 150,000 students.

The analysis measured the connection between SAT performance for the high-school class of 2006 and college grades.

The correlation scale ranges from minus 1 to 1.

A correlation of zero would indicate no connection between scores and grades, and 1 would show a perfect correlation -- basically, showing that students with high scores on the SAT are guaranteed to earn high college grades.

The study found high-school GPA had a .54 correlation with college grades, which is considered fairly strong.

Individually, all three SAT sections had lower correlations, but taken together they were .53.

Combining high-school GPA with the three SAT scores was stronger still -- .62. But that was just .01 higher than if the writing exam weren't included.

Copyright © 2008 Associated Press

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