Why all the SAT changes: The class divide
By 2016, the scoring will revert back to the “out-of-1600” format, and the essay section will become optional. Students will no longer be penalized for incorrect answers. There will be less emphasis on obscure vocabulary and more on evidence-based reasoning. Reading passages will come from well-known texts, such as the Gettysburg Address or the “I Have a Dream” speech. There will be fewer math topics and more in-depth questions (and calculator bans on certain sections). And perhaps most importantly of all, the test will be offered both in print and digitally.
"No longer will it be good enough to focus on tricks and trying to eliminate answer choices," said College Board CEO David Coleman. "We are not interested in students just picking an answer, but justifying their answers."
While many of the changes will be welcomed by students, the question arises: What led College Board to institute such significant reforms? The simple answer: class divide.
According to College Board, low-income students face serious disadvantages when preparing for the SAT. And this meant that, on average, they scored lower than wealthier students on every section of the test.
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A noble effort but it won’t close the class divide by much. It is all the education and enrichment leading to the test that creates the divide. Changing the test won’t change the inequities in those factors leading to the disparate scores.
We know that life isn’t fair but the unfairness in educational opportunity is a structural problem. The SAT just demonstrates the long-term impact of class—its concomitant privileges and disadvantages, depending on your socioeconomic status—because it tests kids after years of unequal education.
Inequality in one sphere of life bleeds into others.