Many of us think of test curves as "helpful" to balance out the severity of a particularly difficult test. The opposite is apparently true when a test is "easy," as many of those who took the June SAT are quickly finding out.
To be fair, the "curve" is not based on on a comparison of OTHER students and how they scored; rather it is based on the difficulty of the questions themselves, and the scoring was adjusted to reflect that. The June SAT was known by the College Board to have a number of "easy" questions - so the curve was intended to even out the scoring as compared to SAT tests with more "difficult" questions.
Regardless, there is still a sour taste in the mouths of many students and parents regarding the June exam and how it was prepared and scored.
The June SAT test had a reputation I'd heard for being "easier" than other SAT exams given throughout 2017-2018 school year. While I know that the test contents varies from test to test, I assumed a lot of the reason why the June exam had a reputation for being "easier" was probably because the students taking it had completed junior year and knew the material better.
Indeed, my own child took the test in December on her own and again in April with her school, and we thought she should give it the "good ol' college try" and take it a third time, just to see how she performed.
Initially, I worried it was too much to put on her in December to take standardized college exams (meanie that I am, I had her take BOTH the ACT and SAT - with essay on both - the first two weekends of December, right before semester final exams). She scored the best in December; she felt the April test was harder, and was having a tough time with teenage life in April, in which she scored the lowest of the three. She didn't really understand why I kept pushing her for a three test scores, but now I think she sees why (although she did believe December as her best score - she was right, but the variety of scores is important for her to see and understand that students may need more than one crack at it and how a single test score doesn't give a complete view of a student).
She is looking at above middle-tier universities and colleges and her exam scores are within the range of selectivity for these institutions (so not Harvard or Yale, but places ranging from Bradley University to Syracuse University or similar).
With the June SAT scores released last week, many a parent is in an uproar regarding the curve - and these are parents of bright, capable kids.
Truth be told, the College Board is defending its position on the curve by answering those who have been complaining with the following statement in an article I read this morning: "We understand your questions about your June SAT scores," the message says. "We want to assure you that your scores are accurate. While we plan for consistency across administrations, on occasion there are some tests that can be easier or more difficult than usual. That is why we use a statistical process called 'equating.' Equating makes sure that a score for a test taken on one date is equivalent to a score from another date. So, for example, a single incorrect answer on one administration could equal two or three incorrect answers on a more difficult version. The equating process ensures fairness for all students."
In the comments related to the scoring, parents were stupified at the test scores. From that same article: "College Board! One daughter got 760 getting only 5 wrong in math in March. Her twin missed 6 in math on June 2 test and got 670? 90 point difference in overall SAT scores for just ONE math question? How is that fair or standardized? So many kids hurt," wrote one parent.
Statements ranged from "It might be fair to say that the most accomplished students shouldn’t make those kinds of errors, but is that true? Wouldn’t it be more accurate to say that the most accomplished test takers don’t make those kinds of errors. Small mistakes under time pressure can make a big difference in life, no doubt, but doing well in college tends to be about doing well over time with the possibility to revise, rethink, and do better."
As well as "The ones who can't do hard problems but excel at accuracy won't have to take it again. This will be the score they use" another parent said.
If you would like to read the article, click on this link: "An Easy SAT and Terrible Scores."
Arguments rage on about the entire college entrance process, the pressure students face in high school for college entry, and whether any of it really shows a young person's worth, capability and value. Yet, there has to be SOME methods for gauging intellect and performance.
I just read a Forbes article relating to this very topic. I promise to include an upcoming blog post on controversies regarding AP classes, the college admission process and more.
For now, I'll take a deep breath and hope that my daughter's good SAT score, a very decent GPA at a leading public high school and other attributes will help her get to the college and career she is hoping to flourish in.
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