By The Tower Editorial Board
The Tower (Grosse Pointe, Michigan)
Saving the state $15.4 million, the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) and the Department of Technology, Management and Budget (DTMB) recently announced that Michigan schools will undergo a shift in standardized testing, providing the SAT to all juniors rather than the ACT.
Since 2007, ACT, Inc. has supplied Michigan high school juniors with their standardized test, but beginning in Spring 2016, the College Board will provide these students the SAT as part of a three-year contract.
While the contract will not impact current juniors, students graduating in and after 2017 will take the SAT through the school despite years of practice ACT exams. The two tests vary in length and question styles; the five-part ACT exam includes English, math, reading, science and an optional writing portion, whereas the SAT includes critical reading, math and writing.
If students are interesting in taking the ACT, they must now pay $54.50 each time for the ACT Plus Writing and take the exam outside of Grosse Pointe South High School, as the school will no longer offer a free, state-administered exam in the spring.
This change negatively affects students, as those who will be taking the SAT have been practicing for the exam for free since 8th grade. Rather than applying their experience with the practice exams to the real ACT administered by the state, students will now be forced to adapt their prior advice to fit the SAT’s style of testing.
To ensure the transition is seamless for students, the College Board is granting schools free testing materials to help students prepare for the SAT in 2016. However, those taking the SAT through the school in 2016 are unlikely to have sufficient time to adjust to a completely redesigned SAT, let alone a new style of standardized test.
SAT test preparation materials, including online practice tests, will be available for free this spring in an effort to assist students in taking the redesigned exam next year. Despite the consequences of the new contract, the College Board’s efforts will benefit students taking the exam in 2016 or later, providing them with various opportunities to prepare for the college entrance exam before they take it.
In addition to the aforementioned advancements, the College Board stated it will provide training through in-person and online courses given to local test administrators, proctors and technology coordinators. The testing agency plans to ensure a smooth transition to their exam by providing professional development to teachers, students and parents in understanding the new SAT format and scores.
Despite the inconvenient consequences of the abrupt switch, it is essential for students to prepare for the SAT to the best of their ability and embrace the change, as the ACT will remain an option outside of school.
As the College Board devotes themselves to ensuring students are appropriately prepared for the new SAT, future test-takers should value the assistance and ultimately not allow this transition to impact the quality of the scores sent to colleges. ACT or SAT, students should utilize and will have access to materials which provide the means to be successful on either exam.
Photo Credit: romana klee