Arizona House Bill Would Require High School Juniors to Take ACT or SAT

Photo Credit: Ken Lund (CC-By-SA 2.0)

This week, HB 2037, a bill filed in the Arizona House of Representatives, if passed would not require high school juniors to take AzMerit or the AIMS Science test. Instead, they would take a college-readiness exam like ACT or SAT.

The bill sponsor is Arizona State Representative Heather Carter (R-Cave Creek) who represents Arizona Legislative District 15. He serves on the Arizona House Appropriations Committee, the vice-chairman for the Arizona House Appropriations Subcommittee on Education, and the Chair of the Arizona House Health Committee.

The pertinent bill language reads:

E.  NOTWITHSTANDING SUBSECTIONS A AND B OF THIS SECTION, BEGINNING IN THE 2018‑2019 SCHOOL YEAR, THE STATE BOARD:

1.  SHALL NOT ADMINISTER THE STATEWIDE ASSESSMENT PRESCRIBED IN SUBSECTION A, PARAGRAPH 2 OF THIS SECTION TO PUPILS IN ELEVENTH GRADE.

2.  SHALL NOT ADMINISTER THE ASSESSMENTS OF THE ACADEMIC STANDARDS IN SCIENCE PRESCRIBED IN SUBSECTION A, PARAGRAPH 2 OF THIS SECTION TO HIGH SCHOOL PUPILS.

3.  SHALL ADMINISTER TO ALL HIGH SCHOOL PUPILS A STATEWIDE COLLEGE READINESS EXAMINATION THAT INCLUDES A SCIENCE COMPONENT.

The bill has been assigned to the Arizona House Rules Committee.

AZCentral.com reported on the bill prior to it being filed:

House Bill 2037, introduced on Dec. 18 by Rep. Heather Carter, R-Cave Creek, would eliminate the state requirements that juniors take the AzMERIT test and the science portion of the AIMS test. Instead, they would have to take the SAT or ACT during school hours.

Students wouldn’t have to get a certain score on the tests in order to graduate.

Carter said the low stakes of AzMERIT result in students not trying very hard on the tests, and believes requiringcollege-readiness exams insteadwould set them up for success.

“Universities and scholarship programs seek out those students that do well,” she said.

The goal of AzMERIT is to provide insight into a student’s educational growth.Carter said such a goal is wasted on students taking the test during their junior year since they typically receive results their senior year.

At that point, she said,the college-readiness exams would serve them better.

Furthermore, she said,providing the ACT or SAT tests free to students during school hours and making them compulsory would dramatically increase the number of students who take the test.

The bill itself does not specify which exam juniors would have to take. Presumably the state board would create rules outlining which assessments are allowed. The SAT, run by the College Board, has fully aligned their test to the Common Core State Standards.

ACT initially announced they would align to the Common Core, but has not done so as of yet with their college-entrance exam. In a 2012 white paper they would not make the claim ACT was aligned to Common Core, only that they shared research with those developing Common Core. ACT also developed an assessment, ACT Aspire, for use as a statewide assessment for use with states that use Common Core. They have also developed a social-emotional learning assessment. Interestingly enough, in 2016, ACT critiqued Common Core saying it did not reflect college readiness in some aspects.

Even so, may parents and activists are leery of ACT because of their initial involvement with the Common Core State Standards Initiative.

It’s unclear whether students could use alternatives like The Classic Learning Test or Vector ARC instead of SAT or ACT. If it has to be a choice between SAT or ACT, I’d encourage parents to choose ACT. ACT is still somewhat a wild card, but we know the SAT is all in with Common Core.

All of this is a moot point if the bill doesn’t pass though.

SAT Will Replace Smarter Balanced for West Virginia’s High School Juniors

High school juniors in the Mountaineer state will take the SAT college entrance exam instead of the Smarter Balanced Assessment the West Virginia Department of Education announced this week.

From their press release:

All West Virginia high school juniors will begin taking the SAT as the statewide summative assessment in spring 2018, the West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) announced today. The College Board was selected as the successful bidder following a competitive review process for the high school assessment.

The shift in the West Virginia’s statewide assessment was a result of the state legislation passed last April (HB 2711) which, among other things, required the WVDE to identify a college entrance exam to be used as the statewide high school assessment.

“The College Board’s SAT test is a widely respected assessment used across the country,” said Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning, Dr. Lou Maynus. “College Board proved through the bid process that its product was the better assessment for West Virginia students by providing valuable resources at a lower cost than the other bidder.”

SAT was selected as the successful bidder because their proposal more closely met the specifications of the request for proposals (RFP). Students will have access to a large number of resources including the well-known Khan Academy®, which is the official practice portal for SAT. Through Khan Academy®, students have access to eight practice tests, thousands of practice questions and personalized recommendations to help students focus on the skills needed to improve their performance. Additionally, SAT provides an easy process for approving accommodations and supports for testing students with disabilities, students on section 504 plans and English learners. West Virginia high schools are already familiar with College Board through their Advanced Placement (AP) program that helps students earn college credits while in high school.

The SAT assessment will be administered in a paper format in year one with an option to move online in year two and beyond The assessment will be the same as a typical Saturday SAT assessment, but given to students during the regular school day. Students can send their scores to up to four colleges or universities at no cost.

The law that the department cites in their press release means that West Virginia will dump Smarter Balanced as it prohibits the State’s Board of Education “from adopting the Smarter Balanced Assessment system or the PARCC assessment system as the statewide summative assessment.”

Unfortunately, if they didn’t include language that the college entrance exam should not be Common Core aligned. The College Board with Common Core architect David Coleman at the helm has aligned the SAT with the standards. They have ruined the assessment. ACT would have been a better choice.

Oregon Drops Smarter Balanced for High School

The number of states using either Smarter Balanced or PARCC as state-wide assessments has dwindled from 45 to 20 states and the District of Columbia. That number doesn’t include states that are just using those assessments for younger grades. Take Oregon as an example, the Oregon Department of Education confirmed that they will no longer use Smarter Balanced for high school students, but will continue to use the assessment for 3rd – 8th-grade students.

The department in a released statement said the change “comes in response to feedback received from stakeholders around the state that the statewide high school assessment should provide a direct benefit to students beyond meeting graduation requirements.”

This change reflects a desire to cut back on assessment time. Also, more states are starting to use ACT and SAT as their statewide assessment for 11th graders. Using a college entrance exam provides more motivation for students to do well.

Education Week noted that Smarter Balanced, seeing this trend, wants to develop a college entrance exam.

Smarter Balanced issued a solicitation in February to see if it could partner with a big testing company—presumably ACT or the College Board—on an assessment that could essentially kill two birds with one stone: It could provide information states could use in accountability reports, and also serve as a college-admissions exam.

Oh goody.

David Coleman’s SAT Fail

David Coleman announces the SAT redesign.

Reuters just released an investigative report that does not paint David Coleman, architect of the Common Core ELA standards and now CEO of the College Board, in a very good light.

In a nutshell his decision to rush a new “top to bottom” redo of the SAT college entrance exam has been a disaster. Reuters writes:

Internal documents reviewed by Reuters show pitched battles over his timeline to create the new test and whether the push to meet the deadline could backfire.

The documents, which include memos, emails and presentations, reveal persistent concerns that aligning the redesigned SAT with the Common Core would disadvantage students in states that rejected the standards or were slow to absorb them. The materials also indicate that Coleman’s own decisions delayed the organization’s effort to offer a digital version of the exam.

Today, less than a year after the new SAT debuted, the College Board continues to struggle with the consequences of Coleman’s crash course to remake the SAT and its companion, the PSAT, a junior version of the exam.

“It was a bad year, and I’m sorry,” Coleman said in September, at a conference of university admissions officers and high school counselors. “It is no good to have vision if you don’t deliver.”

As Reuters reported in March, the College Board has struggled to stop cheating rings in Asia that exploit security weaknesses in the SAT and enable some students to gain unfair advantages on the exam. A massive security breach earlier this year exposed about 400 questions for upcoming SATs. And College Board officials went forward with the redesigned test even though they knew it was overloaded with wordy math questions, a problem that handicaps non-native English speakers and reinforces race and income disparities that Coleman has vowed to diminish.

Read the whole thing.

The Classic Learning Test: An Alternative College Entrance Exam

classic-learning-test

With SAT changes that has brought it into alignment with the Common Core, and ACT’s involvement in the creation of the standards, it is important that we find an alternative college entrance exam.

The Classic Learning Test (CLT) is an alternative that is actually being used now.  The CLT came about specifically out of a need seen first-hand by its Founder, Jeremy Tate, who, while running a test-prep company, saw that homeschooled and privately educated students were being disproportionately discriminated against by being held to standards they had rejected.

The CLT provides private high school and homeschooled students with 1) a higher and more accurate standard of assessing grade-wide academic proficiency, 2) an affordable alternative to SAT/ACT exams, and 3) a way to further distinguish the high school from other academic institutions in the area whose standards have not progressed past the nationwide status quo.

Numerous colleges are already accepting the CLT for admission. The current list of colleges are: Aquinas College, Belmont Abbey College, Benedictine College, Bethlehem College, Bryan College, Christendom College, Grove City College, John Paul the Great Catholic University, John Witherspoon College, Liberty University, New College Franklin, New Saint Andrews College, Northeast Catholic College, Patrick Henry College, St. John’s College, The King’s College, Thomas Aquinas College, Thomas More College, Truett McConnell University, University of Dallas, Walsh University and Wyoming Catholic College.

Here is a video with more information.

You can also take a practice exam which consists of a reading section (40 questions), writing section (38 questions) and math section (38 questions).

You can read and download an overview of CLT here. Dr. Brian Ray of the National Home Education Research Institute is conducting a validity and reliability review. You can read about that here.

I encourage you to spread the word about this test. We also need to encourage colleges to accept CLT, so if you are sending your child off to college soon, let those colleges know you want your child to take the CLT. If you are associated with a particular college, please let them know as well. The CLT is a better assessment for students who have been home schooled or who have attended a private or parochial school.

An Alternative to ACT and SAT Could Be Available Soon

sat

An alternative to the Common Core-aligned college entrance exams – ACT and SAT could be available soon. Introducing Vector ARC (Assessment of Readiness for College) that will offer a beta test for students who attend the Great Homeschooling Convention being held on March 31-April 2 in Cincinnati, OH. This is initially being promoted for homeschooling students

Their description:

Vector ARC (Assessment of Readiness for College) is the antidote for Common Core-aligned college entrance exams. Once, homeschooling virtually guaranteed freedom from government overreach and offensive standards. Because the SAT, ACT, and other standardized tests are now aligned with Common Core, this freedom is under attack. As education reforms cause the number of homeschooling families to skyrocket, those same changes convince many—including some curriculum providers—that without a Common Core education, college will be an unattainable goal. Thankfully, there is a solution.

Vector ARC is more than another test. It is an opportunity to preserve and restore academic freedom. Reminiscent of exams seen generations ago, ARC is free from subjective content and political bias. One student describes ARC as, “Much more challenging, but better because it tests how much we actually know.” Growing numbers of political leaders are advocating on behalf of the assessment. Statisticians are prepared to evaluate ARC. Colleges are anticipating the results. Still, Vector needs the most important component of all: students, not simply to take a test, but to ensure educational liberty remains a reality. Sign up and spread the word. Come find safety in the ARC.

HT: Bluegrass Institute

David Coleman Drives College Board Into The Ground

David Coleman announces the SAT redesign.

David Coleman announces the SAT redesign.

It seems like the College Board is imploding under David Coleman’s tenure.  Since Coleman’s tenure with the College Board began they have been faced with one controversy after another that is largely of Coleman’s making.

They are currently facing a three class action lawsuits which probably has nothing to do with him, but the buck stops at the top.

Valarie Strauss has a nice summary.

The College Board, which owns the SAT, was forced to discard two of 10 sections of the SAT administered June 6 — or 22 percent of the test — because of printing errors on test booklets. Students discovered that the time allotted for one section, the last reading section, said 25 minutes rather than the 20 minutes that they were supposed to have.  Because of the way the test is administered, some students were taking the final math section at the same time as some were taking the reading section with the misprinted timing instruction, and some test-takers were allowed more time than others by exam proctors.

The College Board’s solution was to toss out two sections and offer any June 6 test-taker a chance to retake the test at its next administration, on Oct. 3, 2015, for free. College Board officials have said students’ scores would be as reliable as if the entire test had been graded because the SAT is designed to collect enough information even if the entire test is not scored.

Many students aren’t buying the College Board’s explanation. According to the Courthouse News Service, three class-action lawsuits have been filed against the College Board and the Educational Testing Service, which administers the SAT, seeking a test fee refund as well as money for damages. The lawsuits were filed in Trenton, N.J., Jacksonville, Fla., and Long Island, N.Y.

Read the rest.  This isn’t the only controversy to befall Coleman’s College Board.  There have been complaints about the SAT changes that will align it to Common Core.  One in four guidance counselors are actually encouraging their students not to take the newly designed SAT that will roll out in March of 2016.  Then there is the whole mess with the A.P. U.S. History Framework.

How does this guy still have a job?