All juniors in the state of Michigan are required to take a standardized exam in order to graduate and provide this exam for free. Michigan previously provided the ACT for high school juniors, but after the contract with the ACT ended, the state of Michigan agreed to a three year contract – worth 17.1 million dollars – to shift the mandatory high school assessment from the ACT to the newly designed SAT. This adjustment will be put into force in the Spring of 2016 for the class of 2017. The reasons for this change heavily involve money and preparations, but every shift comes with both costs and benefits.
The reasoning for the change, explained by Assistant Principal of West Bloomfield High School (WBHS) Mr. Eric Pace, is for numerous reasons. He explains, “The state provides testing activities for all students for multiple reasons. The state provides a college entrance exam for free. Well, for free means somebody’s paying for it just not you the individual… it comes from the state budget. The SAT came in about 15 million dollars cheaper than ACT, I believe the total cost of the SAT is about 17 million dollars… 15 million more would be the ACT. That’s the main reason why they made the switch. In addition, the SAT test is changing for 2016 and it’s going to look a lot more like the ACT did anyways. They’re both nationally recognized college readiness exams. It wasn’t a big drop off in terms of determining how effective it would be for you to be successful in college.”
There will be obvious changes, and these changes will cause the SAT to look more like the ACT. Some of the changes, as Pace states, include, “the SAT changing their test structure, the questions and scoring all to be more college readiness focused based on what you’ve heard in common core… Looking at things like supporting your claims with evidence from text will be a big one, looking at problem-solving, critical thinking skills, and math. So our math curriculum, CPM [College Preparatory Mathematics], is geared right towards that, you have problems that you have to decide how to solve them instead of just memorizing a way in which to do it. Also you’re going to be looking at analyzing graphically represented data like graphs, charts, pictures, and pulling evidence for claims in all reading, writing, and math. So the SAT is still remaining with just reading, writing, and math in their test, which is different than ACT- that has the 4 subject areas, there is an essay, but the essay is not required by the college board for your score but most colleges do want you to write that essay to get in So I recommend all students take the essay portion. The change in the point scale, and then finally, wrong answers will no longer be deducted from your score like previous tests for the SAT so only right answers are calculated and then if you don’t get it right it doesn’t count negatively towards you, its just a wrong answer.”
Although there are going to be changes, the current Junior class of 2016 is still being put at a disadvantage, since they will not be taking the scholastic- payed ACT test. Instead, they will be taking a similar college readiness predicting exam, but it will not be able to be sent into colleges. Students have begun to put in the time, effort, and money to get a head start on preparing for the ACT. Junior Hunter Griffin explains the situation as, “Unfair because for us we were going to have to take the ACT, like everyone else, but everyone underneath us will have to do the SAT. They should have made that change when we were Sophomores when we were preparing for both of them instead of focusing on just one. The SAT is also supposedly easier than the ACT, so other kids will be getting it easier.” In general, the switch has been a decently sized challenge for the students, but is a positive change in the WBHS administration’s perspective. Pace excitedly states, “The choice for the state, going with the SAT, is a big one because it was a very different test than the ACT so I was a little nervous about the switch at first, but when I saw the changes to the SAT and how its going to be structured, I don’t think it’s going to be a big difference… for our students. So to me it’s an okay decision- its a good cost savings measure for the state and its still going to be a good test for the students to get into college.”
The ACT swap to the SAT is a large change for the entire state of Michigan. Students are confused and worried about how to manage their current time and money, when in fact there is a lot of grey area regarding what is to come for the mandatory test. However, the change to the SAT will save the state millions of dollars, and will equally push teenagers into being successful with their education. Although change can be looked at in a negative light, this shift will definitely have many positive effects. What do you think of the change from ACT to SAT and the redesigned SAT? Comment below with your thoughts.
College Board: https://www.collegeboard.org/delivering-opportunity/sat/redesign
Princeton Review: http://www.princetonreview.com/SATChanges/