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News from the College Board 2019 New England Regional Forum

 In AP, PSAT, SAT, SAT Subject Tests

On January 29 and 30, our Curriculum, Instruction, and Training (CIT) team attended the College Board’s annual New England Regional Forum. The hot topics included digital testing, the future of SAT Subject tests, the SAT as a predictor of college retention, and a new pre-AP program. In this post, we will share what we learned in the sessions and in conversations with College Board representatives.

Digital Testing

Digital test administrations for the PSAT 8/9, PSAT 10, and SAT will become available in the 2019-2020 school year, beginning with the PSAT 8/9 administration in the Fall.

The digital SAT should be available as an option for SAT School Day dates as soon as Spring of 2020. The anticipated testing windows are for March 4, 5, 6, 25, and April 14, 15, 16, and 28. Note there are currently no plans for a digital PSAT/NMSQT. To get more details, check out the College Board Digital Testing site for test administrators. The College Board does not intend for the digital test to completely replace the traditional pencil-and-paper option; rather, they are providing more options for schools and students.

Currently, there is no full practice test for the digital SAT. The College Board offers a sample of several questions to preview in their digital platform, developed in partnership with American Institutes for Research. The College Board is considering providing a full, digital practice test, but there are currently no definite plans.

Since 2015, the College Board has been working quietly to refine its approach to digital testing, initially opening the option to only a small set of clients. After ACT, Inc. received initial criticism for problems in their rollout of digital testing for international students, it should be no surprise that the College Board is intent on a more measured, data-driven approach for implementation of a digital test.

Looking even further ahead, the College Board is researching options for adaptive testing. 

An adaptive test, such as the GRE or GMAT, will increase or decrease question difficulty based on your performance. The benefits of adaptive testing include reduced testing time and greater accuracy in scoring, particularly at the higher end of the scoring scales. The College Board is currently researching whether the adaptive format can provide valid assessments of the same skills as the current, non-adaptive test. The adaptive SAT would exist alongside the standard digital and the pencil-and-paper forms of the test.

The Future of SAT Subject Tests

Despite their decline in recent years, SAT Subject Tests will not disappear into obscurity. The College Board has tangible plans to restructure them, and more specific news on how exactly this process will be implemented is expected later this year.

Currently, the College Board is talking with colleges to determine how the Subject Tests can best complement the rest of the SAT suite of assessments. One possibility is that they may be used to differentiate among high-scoring students at competitive schools. For example, schools such as MIT that have a large number of applicants with very high SAT Math scores and perfect AP math scores may benefit from an especially challenging math Subject Test. One that could show the difference in skill among these very talented students. Subject Tests that are redundant or unpopular, such as Math 1 or some of the language tests, may be eliminated, but most of the tests will likely be updated. Stay tuned for official news from the College Board!

SAT as a Predictor of College Retention

In the summer of 2019, the College Board plans to publish results from the National SAT Validity Study.

The study should highlight the relationship between English and Mathematics academic performance with SAT scores (and those sub-scores many of us have just been ignoring). Since the introduction of the redesigned SAT just a few years ago, the College Board has been tracking a cohort of students, hoping to eventually measure 4-year college completion rates. For now, that initial cohort under study is only in its second year of college, so we should be getting some clearer information on how SAT scores correlate with first year and second year college retention rates very shortly!

Pre-AP Program

The College Board just started a pilot program for a new pre-AP curriculum, with aims to offer pre-AP to all schools for the 2020-2021 school year.

The inclusive program is currently focused on curriculum and standardized assessments for eight courses offered to 9th graders across the country. The goal is to boost college-readiness for all students, and inspire student confidence early on to pursue courses with a higher level of academic rigor. There are about 100 schools currently that are piloting the program during this school year. For 2019-2020, College Board plans to ramp up the pilot program, rolling it out in 200 schools. By year three of the program (2020-2021), pre-AP courses should be open to all schools, and by then, the College Board hopes to roll out a pre-AP program in Geometry, Chemistry, and English 2 as well.

All in all, we heard a lot of exciting news and updates, and there is much more to come and watch out for, as we closely watch the introduction of digital testing, the roll out of the College Board’s new pre-AP program, and the long-awaited news on how the SAT Subject tests will be reinvigorated.

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