Across the Street column: State makes sudden testing change from ACT to SAT
Across the Street
On Dec. 23, Colorado high school juniors, along with the State Board of Education, learned that the test juniors regularly take in the spring, the ACT (American College Test), would be changed to the SAT*. Juniors scheduled to take the test in three months have been prepping for the ACT during the past year. The Colorado Department of Education (CDE) made the announcement just before Christmas break, and many learned of the change when school began again in January.
The ACT test has been in place since 2001 and provided parents, educators and taxpayers an indicator of how students compare and indicated trends in education. At a time when school districts are feeling the changes in assessments with PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career), READ (Reading to Ensure Academic Development) Act Literacy Assessment and CMAS (Colorado Measures of Academic Success) Science and Social Studies, the only longitudinal data consistency within our state has been the ACT test. The ACT is a high-stakes, summative test that is taken seriously by students and is used to determine college entrance and scholarships.
The reason for the test change is House Bill 15-1323, passed at the eleventh hour in last year’s legislative session. The specific portion of the bill that applies to the test is:
22-7-1006.3. State assessments – administration – rules. (1) (a) Beginning in the 2015-16 school year, the Department of Education, in collaboration with local education providers, shall administer the state assessments in the instructional areas of English language arts, mathematics, and science.
The Colorado Department of Education appointed a 15-member committee, as prescribed in the law, and concluded the state standards alignment were best evidenced with the SAT test.
Many students, parents and superintendents have written letters criticizing the decision to change to the new test so late in the school year. Rural school superintendents, from the Western Slope, signed a letter supporting a longer transition period for, at least, this year’s juniors. I agree, and would further recommend that the ACT remain in place for the next five years.
Here are some questions I, along with many superintendents from western Colorado, would like answered:
Why was the announcement made on Dec. 23?
Why wasn’t the State Board of Education considered in this decision?
Who was on the 15-person committee and how were they selected?
Why weren’t more people involved in such an important decision?
Further announcements from CDE are expected this week.
*A brief history about the SAT. In 1926 The College Board created the SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test). Because of the definition of “aptitude” the test name was changed in 1993 to the SAT (Scholastic Assessment Test). Then in 1997 the College Board stated that SAT “no longer means anything.”
Joyce Rankin is a member of the State Board of Education. “Across the Street” will appear monthly.
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