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Archive for Sunday, March 24, 2002

College Board president eyes changes to SAT

March 24, 2002

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— In a move that could affect high school seniors nationwide, the head of the College Board is proposing major changes to the SAT I in an apparent effort to hold on to its biggest client, the University of California.

Possible revisions include adding a writing test, dropping or reducing the analogy questions and toughening up the math section, which in its present form does not require students to have taken advanced courses such as Algebra II.

"I think it's an important step," College Board President Gaston Caperton said Saturday.

College Board trustees last week authorized Caperton and his staff to explore the changes with College Board membership, which includes schools, colleges and universities. Recommended changes would go back to trustees for a vote in June and would go into effect no earlier than 2006.

The proposed overhaul comes just over a year after UC President Richard C. Atkinson startled academia with a call for the UC to drop the SAT I, the two-part verbal and math test taken by about 2 million students each year.

"There is no doubt that the conversation opened by Dr. Atkinson ... spurred the College Board and the academic community to think faster than they usually do," said Chiara Coletti, the College Board's vice president of public affairs.

UC officials greeted the revisions with cautious approval.

"The history of the SAT has been one of fairly constant change and the crux of President Atkinson's initial proposal was that it was a test that no longer served our present needs," said UC spokesman Michael Reese. "It appears at this juncture that the College Board has seen the wisdom of that argument."

SAT supporters say the test helps them identify students who may have benefited from grade inflation.

Critics have attacked the SAT as culturally or gender-biased, mainly because white males tend to do better than most other groups. Test supporters contend the problem lies in an unfair public education system, not in the test.

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