College Board Plans an ‘Improved’ SAT

For months the College Board’s new president has hinted that change was coming to the SAT. Now he has made the organization’s intentions clear.

In an e-mail to College Board members on Monday, David Coleman said the group would better connect elementary and secondary schools with colleges and universities by developing “a more innovative assessment that sharply focuses on a core set of knowledge and skills that are essential for readiness, access, and success,” and that are “most important to prepare students for the rigors of college and career.”

The College Board, in collaboration with college and high-school officials, he wrote, will soon revise the nation’s most famous test so that it “mirrors the work that students will do in college.”

Although Mr. Coleman’s e-mail was short on specifics, he said the organization’s development of “an improved SAT” would be guided by three broad objectives: to increase the test’s value to students, schools, and colleges. As for the latter, he wrote, the College Board would ensure that the revised examination “meets the evolving needs of admission officers, faculty, and other administrators, and that the SAT remains a valid and reliable predictor of college success.”

Last year Mr. Coleman told The Chronicle that he hoped to align the SAT with the Common Core standards, which could further alter the identity of an exam that was long ago conceived of as a measure of students’ innate abilities. Mr. Coleman has also criticized the SAT’s required essay, which measures how students write—but not so much what they write.

“As kids move on to colleges and careers, you have to be accountable to evidence,” Mr. Coleman said in an interview last spring. “Since we’ve given them no source material, we have to say, ‘Wait a minute, what have we done?’ We’ve created this as a performance.”

The College Board plans to hold meetings throughout the nation to solicit input on the SAT’s redesign. If someone’s kind enough to invite me to any of those sessions, I’ll be sure to bring the punch.

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