These final thoughts on the new SAT’s changes regard revoking the previous “guessing penalty” for wrong answers.
Prior to 2016, correct answers would each add a point to the raw score, but wrong ones were docked a quarter of a point. Skipping a question didn’t impact the score one way or another. This all supposedly minimized guessing. (D’ya think? I tend to doubt that.)
Why this change? A spokesperson for the College Board, Carly Lindauer, said there were two reasons. First, research demonstrated the change “wouldn’t have an impact on scores reported”. Second, Lindaur went on to assert that moving to the new scoring system “eliminates any test-taking strategies that students may be using that are irrelevant to what we are measuring in the test.”
Let’s not even open up the Pandora’s box of what standardized tests truly measure, since numerous reports correlate economic privilege to high scores, and that isn’t our intended focus here.
Let me just say this: the SAT’s move away from testing whether students understand the mathematical concept of probability on this exam…which has a math section measuring, among other objectives, probability itself… certainly seems, ahem, ironic.
Now, those who oppose this change argue it encourages guessing, which is the default for unsure students taking ACTs and other tests without the guessing penalty. Does the “eeny meenie miny moe approach” some students find themselves falling back on lead to statistical noise in the scores? Look at it this way, if a student scores extra points by guessing it doesn’t mean they are better prepared for college — it just means their eenies and meenies were luckier.
Skipping strategies, long taught by private tutors, will fall by the wayside. Just like on the ACT test, students will now have a statistical advantage in answering each and every question, even if it’s “alphabet soup” right before the final buzzer. Said another way: since a blank will always be wrong, even a straight line of “C” answers will earn a 20% likelihood of lucky guesses.
Speaking of getting out of jail, anybody else out there ready to see the standardized testing mania subside in this country? I’d sure hate to think that millions of awesome teenagers are being moved like trinkets across a corporate board game just in the name of money.
Oops, did I say that out loud?