The New SAT - Causes

Several sources describe why is the SAT changing


1. From the College Board's website (

"Q: Why is the College Board making these changes? The changes we are making now will improve the alignment of the SAT to curriculum and instructional practices in high schools and colleges. We expect that the addition of a third measure, writing, to the test will strengthen its predictive validity and help colleges to make better admissions decisions. The addition of the writing section will reinforce the importance of writing skills throughout a student's education and support the improvement of the academic preparation of all students, bolstering their chances for academic success in college."


2. Time magazine 10/22/03

The SAT is changing "largely because Richard Atkinson, president of the University of California - the College Board's largest client - wanted it to. Board president Caperton surely had his own ambitions, but it's unlikely he would have sought such radical changes if Atkinson hadn't spoken out against the SAT:.....Caperton is changing the very nature and purpose of the SAT. At his insistence, the goal of influencing school curriculums has become the overriding preoccupation of the new test's developers."


3. Slate magazine Excerpts from The new (and improved) theology of the SAT by Sara Mosle:

There was always a Calvinist streak to the old SAT. A descendant of IQ tests from the 1920s, the test now known as SAT I is supposed to measure something innate and immutable-aptitude-and be impervious to coaching or studying. Good works in school avail you nothing. Brains are bestowed at birth, and results are predestined.

Richard C. Atkinson, the president of the University of California, a former professor of cognitive psychology at Stanford University and testing expert (who in his 70s was considered on the verge of retirement), stunned the educational establishment a year ago by announcing that the state university system-the College Board's biggest client-was considering replacing the SAT I with subject-based, achievement-style tests such as the ACT or the SAT II.

Atkinson's real beef with the old-style SAT is that it's an aptitude test, designed to measure some vague notion of innate intelligence. But by divorcing aptitude from actual achievement, he argues, the test sends precisely the wrong message to high schools and students: that what kids learn in class doesn't matter, because it all comes down to what they're born with anyway. Uncertain of how to prepare kids for a test that is not about anything in particular, teachers and parents either throw up their hands or push students into test-prep courses that have no real educational value. This sense of fatalism is the most pernicious aspect of the test. It's one thing to tell a poor black parent that his or her child hasn't achieved. It's another thing altogether to say that a child's aptitude, or capacity to learn, is fixed in the firmament and unalterable. Yet that is essentially what the SAT I says.

Go to: Predictions for the new SAT tests

Go to: Atkinson's speech leading to the new SAT

Go to: How SAT tests measure IQ

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