This is a guest post by Admitster's Director of Research, college admissions expert Katie Zandbergen, PhD. Admitster provides personalized advice, application and essay review services, and admissions information for students and parents, guiding them through the complex world of college admissions.
A great deal of the hype surrounding the NEW SAT has focused on the actual changes to the test, but how do those changes impact admissions on the college side of the equation?
Attempts have been made to glean what those sitting in admissions offices around the country are thinking about the NEW SAT (Kaplan carried out a survey of admission officers at 375 schools), but findings have been largely inconclusive.
“Schools were divided on how to evaluate the new writing section” and “No one knows exactly how the new test scores will compare to the previous test scores.”
Though we can’t know what each individual college admissions officer thinks of the revised test, or how college admissions policies will be altered (if at all) to take into account the NEW SAT, we can look to The College Board to see which types of outreach efforts have been made and how the NEW SAT is being presented to colleges and universities.
Looking at The College Board’s website, one can find a page labelled, “Resources for Higher Education.” There is a copious amount of information there, much of which makes the NEW SAT sound like the greatest thing since sliced bread.
Some of the highlights include:
- This was a team effort! Throughout the redesign, The College Board worked closely with higher education leaders—an initial tour involving engagement with individuals at 220 institutions was followed up with engagement (think workshops, campus meetings, and webinars) at over 1,600 colleges. They write that the result of this process “is a profoundly meaningful assessment that is thoroughly transparent and aligned to critical high school outcomes and best instructional practices.”
- In May 2016, when the first NEW SAT scores are released, colleges will have access to an improved, interactive score reporting platform. These new score reports “will provide a more detailed view of achievement in specific skills.” Also, for the first time, the SAT Subject Tests will be available in the form of online reports. In order to prepare for the new score reports, colleges can already access sample data files.
- As The College Board writes, “Because the redesigned SAT is a different test than the current SAT, a numerical score on one test will not be strictly equivalent to the same numerical score on the other.” The solution? Prior to the May 2016 score release, concordance tables will be released, showing how scores on the current SAT relate to scores on the NEW SAT. The College Board will also provide concordance tables between the NEW SAT and the ACT.
- Perhaps in response to rumors that the NEW SAT will be more difficult than both the current SAT and the ACT, colleges are assured that “the overall difficulty level of the redesigned SAT will not vary significantly from the current SAT” and that while “the ACT test measures skills across a large domain, the redesigned SAT will measure fewer things much more deeply.”
- By the fall of 2017, wonderfully in-depth NEW SAT data will be available for use in enrollment reports and trend analysis.
- The College Board also has a finger continuously on the pulse of the NEW SAT—a pilot validity study (looking to determine whether the NEW SAT is predictive of college success) should be completed by the late fall of this year, and a national validity study is scheduled to wrap up by early 2019—stay tuned!
Furthermore, the College Board has its ear to the ground and knows that many colleges are looking to further diversify their student bodies (even going test-optional in an attempt to do so—not good news for standardized tests and test-prep services).
At the end of the day, the NEW SAT needs to show that it has the ability “to estimate the likelihood of success in postsecondary education—this is what makes the exam a valuable part of the admissions process in colleges and universities.”
Since the national validity study won’t be released until early 2019, students and colleges alike are taking something akin to a "leap of faith" with the NEW SAT. The College Board, biased though it may be, has a lot of really wonderful things to say about the redesigned test.
Let’s hope that the NEW SAT really is an improvement over the current one; that it will be an excellent predictor of college success; that it will promote college access and opportunity for more students; and that college admissions officials will truly find the NEW SAT test scores a welcome addition to their admissions considerations.
Only time will tell. Stay tuned!