Common Core Woes Lead to New 'Dumbed-Down' SAT

Common Core Woes Lead to New 'Dumbed-Down' SAT

It is no accident that the so-called “architect” of the Common Core standards is now president of the College Board. Barack Obama’s plan to “fundamentally transform” education into the latest social justice iteration has hit a road block, and David Coleman has come to save the day with a newer, “dumbed-down” SAT, so easy that almost anybody can get into college.

Ze’ev Wurman, a former U.S. Department of Education official under President George W. Bush, served in 2010 on the California Academic Content Standards Commission that evaluated the suitability of Common Core’s standards for California.

“One of the first things David Coleman promised when he assumed the presidency of the College Board was to align the SAT with the Common Core,” Wurman told Breitbart News. “Now he delivers on his promise and dumbs down the SAT to match the low level of Common Core expectations.”

“Mr. Coleman and Common Core proponents have a problem: Common Core claims to prepare students for college, yet at most, its content prepares them for community and four-year, non-selective colleges. Its own authors admit as much,” Wurman said.

The current executive with MonolithIC 3D Inc. and co-author with Professor Sandra Stotsky of “Common Core’s Standards Still Don’t Make the Grade” (Pioneer Institute, 2010), exposed the primary social engineering goal of the SAT changes.

“This charade is bound to explode, unless a way is found to force regular state colleges to accept the low-level college-readiness offered by the Common Core,” Wurman said. “The goal is, as the College Board says, to ‘bridge economic and demographic barriers’ rather than assure that college freshmen are adequately prepared.”

“So, in the name of this ‘social justice,’ the SAT is now being dumbed down so it will find more students ‘ready,’ whether truly ready or not,” he said.

Peter Wood, president of the National Association of Scholars, an organization of conservative professors, writes at Minding the Campus about the specific changes to the SAT:

The essay is now optional, ending a decade-long experiment in awarding points for sloppy writing graded by mindless formulae.

The parts of the test that explored the range and richness of a student’s vocabulary have been etiolated. The test now will look for evidence that students are familiar with academic buzzwords and jargon. The College Board calls this “Relevant Word in Context.” Test-takers won’t have to “memorize obscure words” but instead “will be asked to interpret the meaning of words based on the context of the passage in which they appear.”

The deductions for guessing wrong are gone. Literally, there will be no harm in guessing.

 Math will narrow to linear equations, functions, and proportions. 

The scale on which scores are recorded will revert to the old 800 each on two sections, from the current 2,400 on three sections. (Goodbye essay points.)

The old verbal section will be replaced by “evidence-based reading and writing.”

All the tests will include snippets from America’s Founding Documents.

Observing the College Board’s theme of “Delivering Opportunity: Redesigning the SAT Is Just One Step,” Wood makes the connection between the “college and career readiness” mantra of the Common Core standards and the College Board’s announcement that “the redesigned SAT will focus on the knowledge and skills that current research shows are most essential for college and career readiness and success.”

“The student who comes across the College Board’s explanation–and maybe even the journalist who reads it–might miss the full weight of that key phrase ‘college and career readiness,'” Wood writes. “That’s the smoking gun that what is really happening in the College Board’s revision of the SAT is that the test is being wrenched into alignment with the Common Core. That phrase, ‘college and career readiness’ is the Common Core mantra.”

Wood states that with the Common Core standards now mired in controversy, Coleman’s announcement about the big changes to the SAT should be viewed as the throwing of a life preserver for the Obama administration’s social justice agenda.

Wood writes:

The new changes in the SAT are meant first to skate around the looming problem that students educated within the framework of the Common Core would almost certainly see their performance on the old SAT plummet compared to students educated in pre-Common Core curricula.

In addition, Wurman explained, “The SAT was never about what high school teaches, and was never about aligning it with high school curriculum. For that we already have the SAT-2 tests, and AP tests.”

“It was about measuring the general preparedness of students for college,” he told Breitbart News. “That includes broad reading that develops broad vocabulary, and that includes broadly applicable math and reasoning skills, rather than the ‘fewer topics’ workforce-oriented narrow training that the new SAT peddles.”

Wurman continued:

Removing the penalty for wrong answers is another clear sign that the new SAT is about equity, rather than about evaluating college readiness. Ironically, it flies in the face of the rhetoric of Common Core assessment that justified its existence because of the “mindless guessing” supposedly encouraged by existing tests. Yet the new SAT encourages students to guess, giving the lie to the pretense of better assessing readiness.

Only about half of the students who enter college today will eventually graduate. Clearly, our problem is not lowering the bar to entry, but rather making students more prepared before entering college. Unfortunately, Mr. Coleman sees the role of the College Board and SAT under his leadership as validating the low-level expectations of Common Core’s fake “college readiness,” rather than offering a meaningful measure of true future college success. I hope that colleges will see the new SAT for what it is and abandon it in droves.

As Breitbart News observed recently, Coleman and the College Board have another agenda in mind, as well: student data collection–and not just for educational purposes.

In May of 2013, it was Coleman himself who noted at a Harvard Center for Education Policy Research conference that the Obama administration was quite pleased with Coleman’s acquisition of the services of many members of Obama’s Organizing for America (OFA) campaign to assist with student data collection for the College Board’s social justice effort. Jeremy Bird, Dan Wagner, and even Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt have all been tapped for student data collection as they were for Obama’s re-election campaign. These individuals, Coleman said, would be reaching out to the “low-hanging fruit,” or low-income and Latino students.

In lending credibility to the individuals he recruited to the College Board’s student data collection endeavor, Coleman said those he had called “led the Obama campaign’s use of data to galvanize a generation of low-income people to vote like they never have before.”

Explaining the College Board’s new and improved social justice effort, Coleman used the word “rigor,” another prominent Common Core talking point term credited to the standards by supporters.

“The ‘Access to Rigor’ Campaign is at the heart of our work to deliver opportunity to many more students,” Coleman said.

Coleman proudly added that when the Obama administration heard of the College Board’s student data effort, “They saw that we’re going to take the lead on this issue, and they saw an opportunity for this country to get something done.”


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