Get Ready to Ditch the SAT and ACT

 

Dear Friends,

A very informative article written by Robert Holland, a senior fellow for education policy with The Heartland Institute.Shared by Donna Garner, a retired teacher and education activist (Wgarner1@hot.rr.com)

 “Get Ready To Ditch the SAT and ACT”

Decades from now, education historians may observe Common Core (CC) provoked a wave of activism that resulted in decentralizing U.S. education.

That was not what the power elites intended when they concocted standards and assessments intended to apply to all students, teachers, and schools. Their objective was centralization. But their arrogance has activated a hornets’ nest of angry parents intent on reclaiming control over their children’s schooling.

The revolt is going beyond the widespread opt-outs from federally mandated Common Core-linked testing.  Behind the scenes, hard work is proceeding on long-dreamed-of alternatives to the College Board’s century-old dominance of college-entrance testing. Impetus for that came when a key member of the Common Core cabal, testing consultant David Coleman, went straightway from writing the CC English standards to heading up the College Board on an explicit vow to align its SAT with Common Core.

Testing a New Test

Now, with the start of 2016 SAT testing, that has happened. However, the Vector Assessment of Readiness for College (ARC)—a budding SAT alternative—is happening, too. For four years, remarked company spokesman Julie West, “We spent a great deal of time researching entrance exams dating back generations, speaking with professors, retired educators, and professionals. Questions were developed, submitted, and reviewed. Sample questions were also sent to outside evaluators.”

‘Our assessment evaluates math skills through calculus, contains science through chemistry and physics, and contains questions regarding grammar and classic literature.’

ARC beta testing is underway, most recently at the Great Homeschooling Convention in Cincinnati during the first weekend of April. Homeschool families are a natural constituency because linking the SAT and other standardized tests to a de facto national curriculum places homeschoolers’ hard-won freedom from statist overreach and offensive standards in grave peril, but the ARC alternative also may prove to be useful for private and parochial schools, as well as public schools in states not plugged in to Common Core.

“Because the homeschool community is the only sector that has not experienced dramatic shifts in standards or curriculum over the past several years, we have focused on them during beta,” said West. “However, any student with an SAT/ACT or PSAT score may participate in beta testing.

“Because our assessment evaluates math skills through calculus, contains science through chemistry and physics, and contains questions regarding grammar and classic literature, we believe high-achieving students from private and public schools will also benefit from ARC,” said West. “Because we will not permit super scoring, much of the socioeconomic bias has been addressed. Finally, because we are not a timed test, those with special-needs students have been excited to learn about ARC.”

A Drive to Feed Students Substance

Super scoring is a dubious practice whereby students can take their highest scores from multiple SAT tests and piece them into one inflated outcome. Eliminating that kind of gaming would be a solid initial accomplishment for Vector ARC.

Alternatives to the powerhouse College Board, founded in 1900, have been a long time coming.

The Vector team states its assessment will “assess both proficiency of subject matter as well as overall cognitive abilities,” thus maximizing students’ opportunities “to present their strengths.”

At least one other alternative to the entrance-exam monolith is already available, offered through the Annapolis-based Classic Learning Initiatives, which started in 2015. Administered online at testing centers, the two-hour Classic Learning Test (CLT) draws on the works of some of the greatest minds in Western tradition, thinkers of the caliber of C.S. Lewis, Flannery O’Connor, G.K. Chesterton, Martin Luther King Jr., Plato, and Socrates. Several renowned liberal arts colleges, including St. John’s and Thomas Aquinas, accept CLT scores as an alternative to the SAT or ACT.

Alternatives to the powerhouse College Board, founded in 1900, have been a long time coming. The ACT became one such alternative in November 1959, and in 2011, it actually edged out the SAT in total test-takers. Richard Innes, an education analyst at the Bluegrass Institute, says some officials at ACT still believe its “traditional mission is to provide a quality college readiness test that is useful to college admissions offices.” However, Innes also said ACT’s recent joint venture with Pearson Publishing to create a Common Core-type test called Aspire appears to have introduced “mission confusion” at the company.

Then there is the freshly revised federal education law that lets school boards use the SAT and ACT as their federally mandated annual tests, even for students who don’t plan to go to college, saving money for local school districts and ensuring these education-testing giants have continuous access to a $700-million-per-year market. With big education and big testing continuing to feed off each other, the yearning for individualized alternatives is likely to grow.

http://thefederalist.com/2016/04/20/get-ready-to-ditch-the-sat-and-act/

 

Respectfully,

 

Tincy Miller

SBOE, District 12

tincymiller35@gmail.com

www.tincymiller.com

Concerned Parent on Math TEKS

 

Dear Friends,

This is timely and informative letter from a concerned parent from Katy, Texas in regard to the new Math TEKS

Hello Texas SBOE,

I am writing to thank you for taking the time to listen, discuss, and seriously consider the concerns of parents and a student at the meeting Friday.  I know you have a long schedule at each session.  It is very appreciated that you take the time to have a two way conversation with the constituents that come to the SBOE with concerns.  You have created a great environment for people coming before the board.

I also am grateful that you plan to take future time to discuss what to do with the math TEKS.  I don’t think the SBOE or the authors of the TEKS knew how literally the schools and publishers would follow these TEKS.  The schools are teaching the TEKS and only the TEKS.  The breadth of the TEKs is so overwhelming there is not extra time available.  We cannot assume any more is being done than the literal wording of the TEKS.

For reference I have attached the K-8 TEKS with the word FRACTION capitalized and highlighted in yellow as an example.  If the TEKS say to represent adding and subtracting fractions “using objects and pictorial models that build to the number line and properties of operations” that is all that is taught.  Objects and pictures are great examples to use to teach fractions, but the goal should be to add or subtract any two fractions, without drawing pictures.  I am not sure the definition of “build to the number line and property of operations” but that does note seem to be interpreted by the text book providers or the teachers as actually doing math with fractions to find an answer.

Please note that conversion between improper and mixed fractions is never mentioned in the TEKS.  Mastery of fractions, in my opinion, is critical for later STEM classes.  Without this mastery, unit conversions and so much of math and science are much more difficult.  I fear children will be turned off from the sciences because of a poor math foundation.  I bring up fractions as only one easily identified example.

Please keep in mind I am not a lobbyist, and I have nothing to gain from this effort to improve the math TEKS.  I see what is being done in my daughter’s math class, and I am compelled to try and make it better for her and the other children.  Our ISD is attempting to strictly follow the law and the TEKS, so I understand the remedy is with the SBOE.  Again, thank you for listening and acting on our concerns.

Best regards,

John Pendergraff

Katy, Texas

Below is a link to view the provisions.

http://ritter.tea.state.tx.us/rules/tac/chapter111/ch111a.html

 

Respectfully,

Tincy Miller

SBOE, District 12

tincymiller35@gmail.com

www.tincymiller.com