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March 8, 2014

School officials take new SAT in stride

Sweeping changes to format start in 2016

Big changes are coming to the SAT exam, and as College Board president and CEO David Coleman announced on Wednesday, the new test to be rolled out in April, 2016 hopes to lift some of the mystery that surrounds the current SAT — which may not necessarily be creating more college-ready students.

Redesigned to keep students from simply checking off ovals with their No. 2 pencils, the new SAT will include three sections; reading and writing, math and an optional essay. The reading and writing sections will include questions requiring students to cite evidence, as well as include reading passages from such subjects as history, science, literature and social studies. Calculators will no longer be allowed to be used on every portion of the math section which will look to focus on data analysis and real world problem-solving.

“I don’t think it will be a huge change,” Amesbury High School guidance counselor Mary Beth Exner said. “The format has obviously changed, but I don’t think kids going right into it are going to notice that. They usually take the PSAT first. And it is not like they have to take it every year. I’m not thinking it will be such a big deal.”

Triton Superintendent Christopher Farmer was informed of the changes Thursday morning and intends to review them further. However one test doesn’t show a student’s entire potential, no matter the format, Farmer said.

“My hope is that it makes the assessment more accessible and more relevant in terms of the content of the test and the daily lives of students,” Farmer said. “I did read that they were looking to create a situation where students would know more about the assessment before they go into it to kind of take out some of the mystery. The important thing is that any test provides only one data point about a student’s capability and what we need are a number of data points to really begin to make competent predictions about what students will be able to do in the future.”

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