How Important is the SAT Today?

For a long time, the SAT has been and still is a central part of the college application criteria. I’ve always had my qualms about centralized testing, although I also do see the need for some form of evaluating basic reading and math skills. Still, the importance places on SAT and SAT II scores is disproportionately high, in my opinion. It is, therefore, welcome news that many colleges are making SAT scores an optional rather than essential criterion in the college application process, as detailed in this article.

MORE STUDENTS IN THE graduating high school class of 2019 took the SAT than ever before, despite a record number of colleges and universities dropping the entrance exam requirement that’s long been a standard part of the admissions process.

More than 2.2 million students took the SAT, which is administered by the College Board, representing a 4% increase over the number of students who took the college entrance exam in 2018. The increase was driven in large part by the growing number of states that allow schools to administer the test during the school day, typically free of charge.


Idaho, Delaware, Maine and the District of Columbia participated in the SAT School Day in 2018, which the College Board launched in an effort to increase access for students who historically take the test at lower rates, including low-income and first-generation students, students who work on the weekends, have family obligations or have trouble accessing transportation to testing centers. Seven additional states – Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Michigan, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and West Virginia – participated in 2019, driving up the number of students who took the test that way from about 780,000 to nearly 1 million.

Among the students who took the SAT during the day at school, 46% attended a high-poverty public school compared to 22% of students who took the SAT on the weekend at a testing center; 45% have parents who lack a college degree, compared to 30% of students who took the SAT on the weekend; and 46% are students of color, compared to 32% of students who took the SAT on the weekend.

What are your views on the SAT? Is it still a relevant tool for sifting though college applicants?

How High School Writing Can Kill Creativity

How many 5-paragraph essays have you read as a language teacher? How many outlines have you handed out, telling students how long a body paragraph should be and where the thesis and topic sentences should fall? And how many times did your eyes glaze over as you read the same argument as you graded the essays?

If this is what the formulaic 5-paragraph essay is doing to us teachers, one wonders what it does to the students’ creativity. This is described quite poignantly in this article about high school writing.

Here’s a snippet:

One student uses an extended cookie metaphor to contrast the writing she was tasked with in high school with what she’d experienced previously. High school has been a series of repetitive tasks, “I have (for the most part) only written one essay–introduction, three body paragraphs, and conclusion. I would clearly state my thesis, structure my evidence into three neat little pieces, and wrap everything up in five sentences rambling about how extremely significant my point was to the world.”

To this student, “My writing as well as my experiences with high school english in general ended up dry and flavorless, like a grocery store sugar cookie that sat on the shelf for too long. Sure, it’s beautifully shaped and frosted, but it usually doesn’t taste that great. It’s the type of cookie you only buy for its appearance.”

Read the complete article at Let’s Stop Killing Students’ Spirits.

Do you agree with the views here? How can we move away from this cookie-cutter formula and bring back creativity into high school writing assignments?

How ELL Teachers Can Enhance Students’ Math Skills

I get incredibly excited about any new research on interdisciplinary learning. That is why I am fascinated by this article that details how improved language skills can really push forward an ELL student’s potential if he or she is struggling in math. It makes perfect and obvious sense if you think about it. Better cognition means better computation in this case, since many ELL students’ problem might not actually be math but the language and the technical terms!

Read more about this here: Improving Math Curriculum for English Language Learners by Renae Skarin