March 5, 2014

New SAT announced

David Coleman, the extremely self-confident fellow behind the Common Core and who is now in charge of the College Board, has announced his changes to the SAT.
Major Changes in SAT Announced by College Board 
By TAMAR LEWIN   MARCH 5, 2014

Saying its college admission exams do not focus enough on the important academic skills, the College Board announced on Wednesday a fundamental rethinking of the SAT, eliminating obligatory essays, ending the longstanding penalty for guessing wrong and cutting obscure vocabulary words. 
David Coleman, president of the College Board, criticized his own test, the SAT, and its main rival, the ACT, saying that both “have become disconnected from the work of our high schools.” 
In addition, Mr. Coleman announced new programs to help low-income students, who will now be given fee waivers allowing them to apply to four colleges at no charge. And even before the new exam starts, the College Board, in partnership with Khan Academy, will offer free online practice problems from old tests and instructional videos showing how to solve them. 
The changes coming to the exam are extensive: The SAT’s rarefied vocabulary words will be replaced by words that are common in college courses, such as “empirical” and “synthesis.”

Coleman is an old McKinsey consultant, and he resents the English teacher aspect of a lot of American education. Thus, his Common Core standards reduce the amount of fiction and replace it with non-fiction.
The math questions, now scattered widely across many topics, will focus more narrowly on linear equations, functions and proportional thinking. The use of a calculator will no longer be allowed on some of the math sections. The new exam will be available on paper and computer,

The best change would be to go to an all computerized test, where the difficulty level of the questions adjust over the course of the test to how well or badly the student is doing. The military went to this on the ASVAB and it made scores for the not very bright more accurate since they were less likely to give up and bubble in.
and the scoring will revert to the old 1600 scale, with a top score of 800 on math and what will now be called “Evidence-Based Reading and Writing.” The optional essay will have a separate score.

The essay will now be optional, and it will be like one of the essays on the Advanced Placement tests where you have to read some documents and then write a report on them citing your evidence rather than just writing an essay off the top of your head. This reflects Coleman's McKinsey v. English teachers bias, and sounds pretty reasonable to me.
Once the pre-eminent college admissions exam, the SAT has recently lost ground to the ACT, which is based more directly on high school curriculums and is now taken by a slightly higher number of students.

I'm not an expert on this, but my impression is that the SAT was traditionally a superior test at discriminating among high end students. The long term trend toward ACTification of the SAT strikes me as wrong-headed, but that's what the mass market wants.
... Mr. Coleman, who came to the College Board in 2012, announced his plans to revise the SAT a year ago. He has spoken from the start about his dissatisfaction with the essay test added to the SAT in 2005, his desire to make the test mesh more closely with what students should be doing in high school, and his hopes of making a dent in the intense coaching and tutoring that give affluent students an advantage on the test and often turn junior year into a test-prep marathon.

Good luck with that. The test prep book publishers, among others, will make a fortune off issuing all new books. No longer can you use the old one your big sister bought in 2011 and never finished. You need to buy an all new one.
“It is time for the College Board to say in a clearer voice that the culture and practice of costly test preparation that has arisen around admissions exams drives the perception of inequality and injustice in our country,” he said in a speech Wednesday in which he announced the changes. “It may not be our fault, but it is our problem.” 

I agree with the rhetoric, but where is the evidence that Coleman's changes will hurt test prep? My guess is that churn in testing benefits professional test preppers because they stay on top of the latest changes.
Some of the changes will make the new SAT more like the ACT, which for the last two years has outpaced the SAT in test-takers and is increasingly being adopted as a public high school test by state education officials. Thirteen states use it that way now and three more are planning to do so. The ACT has no guessing penalty

I can't see why getting rid of the guessing penalty would make the SAT better. Here's how the guessing penalty works: there are five multiple choice answers, so the expected value of sheer guessing is 0.20. But, getting an answer wrong inflicts a 0.25 point penalty, so the expected value of sheer guessing is 0.00.

It's a minor issue, but I don't see why there would be value in getting rid of something that has been in place for many decades.
, and its essay is optional. It also includes a science section, and while the SAT is not adding one, the redesigned reading test will include a science passage. 
But beyond the particulars, Mr. Coleman emphasized that the three-hour exam — 3 hours and 50 minutes with the essay — had been redesigned with an eye to reinforce the skills and evidence-based thinking students should be learning in high school, and move away from a need for test-taking tricks and strategies.

Once again, good luck with that. There are people right now in Seoul brainstorming about how they're going to coach their tutees all the new tricks and strategies that will inevitably be opened up.
Sometimes, students will be asked not just to select the right answer, but to justify it by choosing the quote from a text that provides the best supporting evidence for their answer.

That might be good, might not. What I'd like to see in this article is Coleman citing the extensive testing that his organization has done (they have done extensive research, right?) to prove that his intuitions about how to make the SAT better actually make the SAT better, rather than just being his opinions. Like I've said before, since the American educational establishment has decided to more or less bet the country on one guy, Coleman isn't the worst guy they could have picked. But, does he have evidence to confirm his hunches, or his he just imposing his will?
The revised essay, in particular, will shift in that direction. Students now write about their experiences and opinions, with no penalty for incorrect assertions, even egregiously wrong ones. Going forward, though, students will get a source document and be asked to analyze it for its use of evidence, reasoning and persuasive or stylistic technique.

Sounds reasonable. They already do it on the AP.
The text will be different on each exam, but the essay task will remain constant. The required essay never caught on with most college admissions officers. Few figure the score into the admission decision. And many used the essay only occasionally, as a raw writing sample to help detect how much parents, consultants and counselors had edited and polished the essay submitted with the application.

That's funny.
Starting in the spring of 2016, some of the changes to the SAT will include: 
• Instead of arcane “SAT words” (“depreciatory,” “membranous”), the vocabulary words on the new exam will be ones commonly used in college courses, such as “synthesis” and “empirical.” 

This is part of Coleman's prejudice against Ye Olde Poetry. Does he have any evidence that his reform will actually accomplish anything good? And do his example even make sense? "Depreciatory" is obviously related to "depreciation" which comes up in a whole lot of college classes on accounting and business. "Membranous" is obviously related to "membrane," which comes up in lots of college biology and pre-med courses.

Vocabulary questions are highly IQ-loaded, which is much of the point of the Scholastic Aptitude Test -- it complements high school GPA by helping identify smart kids, the ones who can work out what "depreciatory" more or less means from knowing, say, what "appreciate" means.
• Every exam will include, in the reading and writing section, source documents from a broad range of disciplines, including science and social studies, and on some questions, students will be asked to select the quote from the text that supports the answer they have chosen.

This is part of the triumph of E.D. Hirsch, which doesn't strike me as a bad thing. Hirsch was an English professor who looked into why students at local grade schools were doing so badly and he decided that part of the problem was that they were so factually ignorant. So, he recommended that instead of reading instruction including a lot of poems and fiction, it should have lots more nonfiction passages imparting basic "core knowledge."
• Every exam will include a reading passage from either one of the nation’s “founding documents,” such as the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights, or from one of the important discussions of such texts, such as the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.”

The boys in Seoul are going to love that part! They'll have their test-cramming students memorize every single Founding Document.

Last year, some insightful college admissions folks had unkind things to say about Coleman's nascent plans for redoing the SAT. If you are interested in this topic, they are worth reading.
     

43 comments:

Anonymous said...

I went to high school in Ohio in the 90's. The majority of the kids there took the ACT. But the few of us who were looking at (and ended up at) East Coast Ivy League schools focused exclusively on the SAT.

AMac said...

Sounds like 1 part meaningful change and 4 parts fad. Probably better than average for the education-industrial complex.

Years ago, Steve had the most effective and economical suggestion I've heard for Closing The Gap, the theme that runs through these SAT reforms. Hit white and Asian kids on the head with a hammer.

Jason D. said...

"The boys in Seoul are going to love that part! They'll have their test-cramming students memorize every single Founding Document."

-Well, at least kids somewhere will be learning them. They're dropping them from US schoolbooks at an exponential pace to give enough room to teach Martin Luther King's love poems, notes scribbled on George Washington Carver's bounced checks, Malcolm X's teenage graffitti, and Trayvon Martin's facebook messages.

Lasagna or LaSonya said...

You know they are just doing this to keep trying to find out a way to screw white kids and raise black scores, don't you?

Anonymous said...

All these changes sound reasonable to me. I was never a fan of the 25 minute essay, although I can't say I've ever seen any rigorous analysis of its predictive ability. Still, I would think 50 minutes spent analyzing a document and arguing about it would be a far superior indicator of useful, real world abilities than trying to write the most persuasive sounding piece possible in 25 minutes with no regard given to factual accuracy.

Reducing the efficacy of test prep is a good thing, though the research says most test prep used in the U.S. already has little effect. At least the Asians will no longer be at an advantage for memorizing 2000 obscure words, or whatever.

Overall, I doubt these changes will have much impact. My predictions:

The Gap will remain basically unchanged.
Other gaps will change little or not at all.
Predictive validity will remain unchanged or slightly increase.
Test prep becomes marginally less effective but demand remains unchanged.
The test will be revised by another visionary reformer in 2030.

Anonymous said...

Ahh the annual rejiggering of the test white people undergo to try and give white people a chance against Asians.

Good luck! Why not make math 20% of the SAT and add a College football section. All the whining I see from white people about Asians prepping for tests won't change anything. You don't see white people complain when a black athlete works out more before he runs the combine do you?

Anonymous said...

The elites simply refuse to confront reality. No amount of SAT shenanigans can overcome scenes like this one:

http://m.worldstarhiphop.com/apple/video.php?v=wshh70Ccdeqyd63jNwU5

Anononymous said...

These changes will be depreciatory to the SATs ability to predict college performance.

Anonymous said...

What is this fixation on "the boys in Seoul"? The kids in Shanghai outdid South Koreans in the latest round of PISA testing, even though Shanghai contains a large number of dirt-poor families who presumably cannot afford expensive test prep. And as Ron Unz has pointed out, the performance of kids in China's outlying provinces isn't far behind Shanghai's--and you're talking about people as poor as those in India and Africa. Even for richer Chinese, test prep in China is not nearly as sophisticated as that in Korea. Finally, I recently read on the OECD site that kids of janitors and sanitation workers in Hong Kong (mostly mainland migrants) did better than the kids of the wealthy (doctors and lawyers) in Canada. So, you can't completely attribute top performance to cramming at test prep programs. People do this to dismiss the achievement of South Koreans; my feeling is that the SK's do overdo the prep, but there are many things they (and their Chinese neighbors) are doing right that, if we would just keep an open mind, we could learn from.

PhysicistDave said...

Steve,

I recently had a chance to talk with a woman who works for the Kaplan test prep organization. She mentioned a student who got a perfect score on an essay describing how the student was the country's leading neurosurgeon. Obvious nonsense, but the SAT essay graders are instructed not to penalize factual errors, even obviously and blatantly intentional factual errors! I suppose the grader got a chuckle out of it.

From what I hear, almost any change to the essay would be an improvement.

Dave Miller in Sacramento

Anonymous said...

There never should have been an essay section.

They should go back to the old SAT with the analogies. Analogies match closest with IQ. And if it's factual content you want to test, well analogies test that best as well, since it's not enough to know basic definitions or description. The Miller Analogies Test is used by some graduate schools and it matches closest with IQ among standardized tests.

wiseguy said...

IMO, the essay portion of the SAT should have never been included.

Looking back, I suspect that the essay section, because of its subjective nature, was added to provide graders with an opportunity to fudge grades in favor of well-prepared elites and special minorities.

The well-prepared elites would know what buttons to push in their essays; the minorities would be obvious in their identities and thus be graded more softly.

As someone who was neither well-prepared nor is a minority, I find it interesting that the only section which I scored worse in on the SAT than I did on the PSAT (which had no essay) was the writing section. And I don't think it was due to the multiple choice components of the writing section, since I scored perfectly or nearly perfectly on all of the multiple choice sections I took in the PSAT, in the SAT and in the two SAT subject tests I took.

So perhaps my test results are a data point in support of the theory that the essay portion was instituted in order to inflate the grades of elites and minorities at the expense of those of middle-class whites and Asians.

jody said...

"eliminating obligatory essays"

good. oh wait:

"The essay will now be optional"

nah. it should be eliminated completely. this is not an AP test.

"cutting obscure vocabulary words."

not a good idea. an obvious dumbing down maneuver.

"The SAT’s rarefied vocabulary words will be replaced by words that are common in college courses, such as “empirical” and “synthesis.”"

looks like they spelled 'white privilege' and 'racist' incorrectly.

"The best change would be to go to an all computerized test, where the difficulty level of the questions adjust over the course of the test to how well or badly the student is doing."

i don't agree with this. i understand your thinking here, but i think the reliability of the test goes away if you do this. again, use the obstacle course analogy. the course is the same for everybody. everybody attempts the same course, everybody gets a time, all times are directly comparable. once you start to adjust the difficulty of each obstacle for each contestant, you throw away the abililty to directly compare the results.

also, i'm sorry, but who cares about people who are too dumb to make it through a 3 hour test. they have no business going to any college. can't even make it through a 3 hour test? zoning out after an hour? tuning the questions out? then who cares about your academic potential. you don't have any.

this isn't the US military. this is a college entrance examination. we shouldn't care about making sure the guys who are going to turn the wrenches on the jeeps and cook the food in the mess hall get 5 more points on the test by making it less boring so they don't tune it out.

"I'm not an expert on this, but my impression is that the SAT was traditionally a superior test at discriminating among high end students."

i don't know enough about ACT to say. but SAT ceiling was definitely lowered in 1995. the ceiling might be raised in the new coleman SAT. then again, it sounds like it's not. raising the ceiling is, obviously, the way to go. make the hardest obstacles on the obstacle course rather hard. let's seperate the top couple thousand test takers into clear groups.

peterike said...

Why don't they just cut to the chase and grade students on how able their parents are to help them pay their student loans. Outside of preparing the next generation of Ivy elites, isn't that what the whole house of cards is designed to do anyway?

David Davenport said...

"The best change would be to go to an all computerized test, where the difficulty level of the questions adjust over the course of the test to how well or badly the student is doing."

The computerized version of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), the most widely used American screening test for graduate schools, has been doing that for many years now. On any given day, different people taking the GRE take a different GRE.

Why do this with the GRE? To de-compress the spread between the high and the low end of the bell curve. Different --> easier or harder version. More Pee Cee that way ... Low end peepul don't directly perceive how far they are from the high end, at least while taking the test.

i don't agree with this. i understand your thinking here, but i think the reliability of the test goes away if you do this. again, use the obstacle course analogy. the course is the same for everybody. everybody attempts the same course, everybody gets a time, all times are directly comparable. once you start to adjust the difficulty of each obstacle for each contestant, you throw away the abililty to directly compare the results.

No you don't.

Anonymous said...

http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2014-03-04/news/chi-rev-wrights-daughter-stands-trial-on-state-grant-scam-allegations-20140304_1_wright-trial-regina-evans-money-laundering

let the good times roll

Anonymous said...

http://www.presstelegram.com/general-news/20140304/hillary-clinton-compares-vladimir-putins-actions-in-ukraine-to-adolf-hitlers-in-nazi-germany

putler

Make It Guineas said...

I was personally acquainted with Dick Atkinson and I believe he wanted the essay added to the SAT (and the analogies removed) specifically to make the test less accurate by compressing scores at the top and setting up a way to tinker with points for non-whites who would identify their races in their essays. Remember, Atkinson is a mathematical psychologist and knows all about IQ.

What I want to know about any new SAT is how it was or is to be validated against the old SAT (preferably the SAT from the 1970's)-- they should give both tests to a large representative sample of students and make sure the new test evaluates them at least as well as the old, and look for predictive validity against college performance for several years before adopting a new test.

I'm not holding my breath while I wait.

I would love to read some commentary from Kim Swygert on this ( http://www.kimberlyswygert.com ) but I don't know where to look for any. I don't see anything from her at Joanne Jacob's any more.

Anonymous said...

Blogger David Davenport said...

"...once you start to adjust the difficulty of each obstacle for each contestant, you throw away the abililty to directly compare the results."

"No you don't."

==================

Walk me through the "no you don't". No snark here, just a 2 digit IQ.

dearieme said...

"The math questions, now scattered widely across many topics, will focus more narrowly on linear equations, functions and proportional thinking": but not frequency distributions. Rum, that.

dearieme said...

Of course. Sorry to be so dim. Mean and standard deviation are social constructs.

Anonymous said...

1. The essay: The old essay was a joke; no university took it seriously.Replacing it with analytical writing seems like an improvement.


2. Founding Documents: Since this is precisely the kind of thing that test prep can help you with, I don't understand why it was included. Wouldn't it have made more sense to use more obscure pieces of writing, thereby limiting the efficacy of swotting up?

3. Getting rid of Arcane (isn't "arcane" a bit, well, arcane, David?)vocabulary terms: As you say, Steve, this is just another manifestation of the Leftist crusade against the old analogies portion of the SAT. Egalitarian types just can't seem to come to grips with the fact that:

A. Smarter kids have bigger vocabularies

B. Smarter kids are better at figuring out the meaning of unfamiliar words

flambeaux said...

"Walk me through the 'no you don't'. No snark here, just a 2 digit IQ. "

Less successful test-takers aren't getting more credit for jumping over the same low obstacles for 3 hours.

If you have a limited period of time it makes sense to quickly establish a floor under the test-taker's ability. Then you can present more questions tailored to finding the differences between the candidates at that level.

slumber_j said...

Steve, the problem with your theory that David Coleman is anti-literary is that it certainly wasn't true when I knew him back in the early 90s. He was a Rhodes Scholar then, doing graduate work at whichever Oxford college...in English literature. I specifically remember discussing various poets' work with him--at length and on many occasions.

(I also remember that my future-ex-wife and he used to reminisce a lot about X-Men comic books. Perhaps I should have taken this for an omen.)

Anyway, unless McKinsey really beat the crap out of him and excised his personality entirely, I think you're not right about this.

Col. Reb Sez said...

Steve, I'm surprised you didn't pick up on this, but I think some of the changes are designed to reduce the Asian advantage on the test. They are among the biggest preppers, and their scores tend to exceed what one would expect from their IQ. For example, the SAT vocabulary lists are published by the College Board; anyone can study them. But Asians and preppers seem to be studying them more.

The new test seems more g-loaded to me. They are getting rid of the obscure vocabulary, so high-IQ student won't have to study since they will know the basic words just from the reading that high-IQ people do. The ability to interpret and analyze founding documents seems to me to be almost as g-loaded as the old analogy questions.

About guessing; people who prep know that if you can definitively eliminate one answer you should guess, as such guesses will on average gain one a quarter point. This is something that has to be told to people, and I think some have a hard time grasping it, and if they are never told they are at a disadvantage.

In my view eliminating the wrong answer penalty makes the test a bit fairer, but it also makes it a bit less accurate, as a small few will have lucky guesses. I suggest anyone wanting to count on lucky guesses play some keno; but even keno has winners.

Cail Corishev said...

They should go back to the old SAT with the analogies. Analogies match closest with IQ.

If they wanted a test that correlated closely with IQ, they'd use an IQ test. What they want is a test that doesn't correlate too closely with IQ, but still somehow picks out the best students, while still leaving them enough wiggle-room to play politics with their choices.

David Davenport said...

"...once you start to adjust the difficulty of each obstacle for each contestant, you throw away the abililty to directly compare the results."

"No you don't."

==================

Walk me through the "no you don't". No snark here, just a 2 digit IQ


Computerized GRE questions don't all have the same weighting.

The first n-many questions, maybe as few as the first 10-12, are more heavily weighted than the later questions.

If one answers all the first n questions correctly, he is given Category A questions for the remainder of the test.. Miss a few of the first n questions, Category B ... and so on.

One demoralizing aspect of the computerized GRE is that the teestee has to answer all questions in the sequence presented. One can't budget time and effort by skipping harder questions and answering easier questions first, then harder questions in time remaining.

BurplesonAFB said...

The problem I see with progressive difficulty testing is that if a bright student just happens to drop a couple easy questions nearer the beginning of the test, it can have a disproportionate effect and to some degree "cap" their score much more than it can when everyone is writing the same test.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like scores will be dumbed down, so the "whole person" approach can be even more subjective.

jody said...

"No you don't."

of course you do, but i'm not having a long argument about it in the isteve comments section.

countenance said...

David Coleman, president of the College Board, criticized his own test, the SAT, and its main rival, the ACT, saying that both “have become disconnected from the work of our high schools.”

"The work of our high schools" = Social justice pablum and condom exercises.

“It is time for the College Board to say in a clearer voice that the culture and practice of costly test preparation that has arisen around admissions exams drives the perception of inequality and injustice in our country,” he said in a speech Wednesday in which he announced the changes. “It may not be our fault, but it is our problem.”

The only way to do that is to make the SAT test purely an IQ test. And we all know how beloved those are these days.

Anonymous said...

Jason D., what are you talking about? High school level textbooks still have the Constitution, Articles of Confederation, and Declaration in the appendices, in their entirety. (I teach U.S history)

Your allegations may be true at the elementary level. That's where the nonsense lies. Some elementary schools do not even teach history or science. They don't teach basic geography either. Kids come to middle school without even being able to locate Canada on a map.

Anonymous said...

I guess I don't see the problem with simply giving a nice IQ test for 18-year olds. For decades that's what the SAT was, right? An attempt at measuring aptitude, not mastery of any curriculum.

1926-1990: "Scholastic Aptitude Test"
1990-1993: "Scholastic Assessment Test"
1993-present: "SAT"

(What does "SAT" stand for? "SAT" stands for "SAT," and it always has, heretic.)

SWPH

David Davenport said...

The problem I see with progressive difficulty testing is that if a bright student just happens to drop a couple easy questions nearer the beginning of the test, it can have a disproportionate effect and to some degree "cap" their score much more than it can when everyone is writing the same test.

Counterargument is: a really bright student wouldn't miss easier questions.

progressive difficulty testing --> progressive along different bands or tracks of difficulty... A horizontal tree branching to the right.

This applies to the math section of the GRE. I'm not sure that the verbal section is progressive in this way.

One motive for making the math section "progressive" is to make it harder to score 100 percent correct. In the past, the GRE has had too many 100 per cent math scorers.

The math section is not being dumbed down.

As for the written essay, there has been trouble and some lawsuits about the scoring of the written essays. The scoring has been done by temporary hires who only skim the essays, resulting in inaccurate scoring.

Sorino said...

"Kids come to middle school without even being able to locate Canada on a map."

Most that graduate college don't know the capital of Canada.

Tony said...

ColRebSez said that he thinks the new SAT is designed to reduce the Asian advantage which he attributes to test prep. Yet as Ron Unz and other have pointed out, College Board data shows that Asians in the lowest socioeconomic bracket perenially outperform white students in the highest bracket. It is doubtful that dirt-poor students have the same access to fancy test prep as wealthy white students. It's well-known that the rich spend exorbitant amounts on test prep and private schooling for their kids, both of which raise test scores; access to test prep and certainly private schooling is much less widespread among the poor.
Secondly, ColRebSez is referencing the Verbal section, which Asians generally do a bit worse on than whites. So his comments about the Asian advantage don't make sense.
Finally, as Unz and others have pointed out, the SAT has never tested spatial skills, which Asians tend to excel in. Asians, he points out, do worse in verbal, while Jewish people do better in verbal. So the SAT actually has a built-in bias against Asians, by not testing the very skill set that they demonstrate proficiency on other exams.

Tony said...

It is strange to hear whites complain about Asians prepping for tests, when in fact the very existence of Kaplan, Princeton Review, Huntington, Sylvan, and innumerable regional test prep centers is attributable to wealthier, neurotic white parents. Simply put, there are not enough Asians to go around to keep those prep companies profitable--whites outnumer the latter 20 to 1. Secondly, whites have more access to private schooling which can itself be seen as "test prep"--the schools are simply better than the ones Asians go to.
It's also worth noting that Asians in the lowest economic bracket show higher SAT averages than whites in the higher income groups. Since the former hardly has access to good test prep, being by definition poor, while the latter has all the attendant advantages of wealth, it is hard to dismiss Asians' performance solely to "test prep".

Tony said...

At any rate, it's hard to blame Asians who do spend a lot of time on test prep: as a Princeton study revealed in 2009, Asian students have to earn 140 pts higher on the SAT than whites to have the same chances for admission, everything else being equal. This makes test-prep companies very, very happy.

RonMexico said...

Anonymous said...
Jason D., what are you talking about? High school level textbooks still have the Constitution, Articles of Confederation, and Declaration in the appendices, in their entirety. (I teach U.S history)

Your allegations may be true at the elementary level. That's where the nonsense lies. Some elementary schools do not even teach history or science. They don't teach basic geography either. Kids come to middle school without even being able to locate Canada on a map.

8th grade US History here, we have the complete Constitution and Declaration, not the Articles. What Jason D. might be concerned with is that just because they are in the textbook doesn't mean they will be taught. A friend of my wife's, Terrence Moore, wrote a great critique of the CC and its impact on classical literature and founding documents, "The Story-Killers: A Common Sense Case Against the Common Core". Great read for MS and HS teachers of ELA or SS. You are absolutely right about the elementary level issues with Social Studies (US History in particular). Our elementaries give S.S. 20 to 25 minutes per day, 4 days a week. Most are clueless when they arrive at the middle school. Somewhat related topic: My 4th grader brought home a CC textbook generated assignment in which they read a poem about Cesar Chavez and then made their own protest banner. His said Si Se Puede!, as I am sure most of his classmates' did as well. This is a Catholic School, too, that doesn't have any need to use CC. CC is evil, and easily misleads lazy administators/teachers/parents and then manipulates the young skulls full of mush. I never thought we would have to reeducated our children coming home from a private school.

Cail Corishev said...

There's a company called Sadlier-Oxford that puts out textbooks that are used by many Catholic/Christian homeschoolers. I've been using one of their grade-school vocabulary books, and each lesson contains one passage on some topic that they read for comprehension. So far, in 9 lessons, we've had stories on Satchel Paige, saving the rain forest, a suffragette I'd never heard of named Victoria Woodhull, and Rosa Parks. The one on Paige was pretty straightforward without much of a race angle, but the other three had a definite liberal slant. They also routinely use sample sentences in the lessons that convey PC platitudes on everything from civil rights to pollution. Women's suffrage seems to get a lot of attention.

This stuff is everywhere. It's certainly worse in the schools, but unless all your educational materials were published well over 60 years ago, you can't escape it.

pulnimar said...

@David Davenport

"Why do this with the GRE? To de-compress the spread between the high and the low end of the bell curve. Different --> easier or harder version. More Pee Cee that way ... Low end peepul don't directly perceive how far they are from the high end, at least while taking the test."

The problem with this rationale is that you don't know if it's true. Especially toward their ceiling, I would expect there to be enough stagger in what a person knows or can figure out, that by artificially lowering question difficulty based on previous answers you might actually cut off some of their ability.

Of course this happens in every test, given the necessary restriction in number of questions asked. And of course some test takers get a result that is somewhat higher than their actual ability or knowledge thanks to the sampling bias. But I hope the test managers are accounting for this possibility.

pulnimar said...

Everyone talking about how making the SAT a pure IQ test would solve all of these problems.

Of course it wouldn't. Unless you chose your sub-tests very, very well. Because the Flynn effect would not exist to the extent it now exists if certain sub-tests weren't prone to teachability.

pulnimar said...

" Sorino said...

"Kids come to middle school without even being able to locate Canada on a map."

Most that graduate college don't know the capital of Canada."

Most of them knew what the capital of Canada was at one point. And then they never used that datum again. So of course they forgot, or stored it in slow to access long-term memory.

When I see statements like this I can only assume that you value savantism over practical knowledge and skill. Because knowing the name of the capital of Canada isn't a practical datum for the vast majority of non-politicians in the U.S., or even Canada.

The real world isn't Jeopardy. Most people aren't asked to recall random factoids in their daily life.