February 26, 2013, 5:00 am
For months the College Board’s new president has hinted that change was coming to the SAT. Now he has made the organization’s intentions clear.
In an e-mail to College Board members on Monday, David Coleman said the group would better connect elementary and secondary schools with colleges and universities by developing “a more innovative assessment that sharply focuses on a core set of knowledge and skills that are essential for readiness, access, and success,” and that are “most important to prepare students for the rigors of college and career.”
The College Board, in collaboration with college and high-school officials, he wrote, will soon revise the nation’s most famous test so that it “mirrors the work that students will do in college.”
Although Mr. Coleman’s e-mail was short on specifics, he said the organization’s development of “an improved SAT” would be guided by three …
January 20, 2013, 7:06 pm
Los Angeles — At a conference hosted by the University of Southern California’s Center for Enrollment Research, Policy, and Practice last week, Charles E. Lovelace Jr. uttered the most memorable quote. The next great challenge in college admissions, he said, is “how we separate merit from privilege.”
Mr. Lovelace is executive director of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Morehead-Cain Foundation, which annually provides full-ride scholarships to 50 undergraduates. In an article today, I describe how and why the university revamped its selection process, incorporating noncognitive measures of students’ potential. Morehead-Cain is one of many scholarship providers that assess attributes such as character and leadership.
Most colleges, however, have not adopted nontraditional assessments. Why?
On Friday, I moderated a panel with Inside Higher Ed’s Scott…
January 18, 2013, 12:00 pm
Los Angeles — On Thursday night an admissions dean here asked me why I’d described noncognitive assessment as the “next frontier” in college admissions. That was presumptuous, he said, too optimistic.
I’d chosen the word “frontier” for a reason, I told him. Frontiers are places of promise and possibility, but they also abound with uncertainty. That’s a fair way of describing how many admissions deans view the prospect of using alternative measures of student potential. Nobody’s calling them a panacea.
At a conference here hosted by the University of Southern California’s Center for Enrollment Research, Policy, and Practice, many attendees have predicted that the future of college admissions will include more assessments of attributes not captured by standardized-test scores and grade-point averages. As science reveals more and more about what matters in learning, it follows that…
January 17, 2013, 11:44 pm
Los Angeles — My father, a handy fellow around the house, has often told me to make sure I have the right tool for the job. I was reminded of that advice on Thursday while listening to Sheldon Zedeck, a professor of psychology at the University of California at Berkeley.
Here at a conference sponsored by the University of Southern California’s Center for Enrollment Research, Policy, and Practice, Mr. Zedeck described his research on predicting the effectiveness of lawyers. The Law School Admission Test, or LSAT, plays a large role in determining who gets into law schools. Research has shown that it does a good job of predicting a student’s success … in law school.
But to measure an applicant’s potential for success as a lawyer, Mr. Zedeck has concluded, you need a different tool. “The LSAT is not a good predictor of effective lawyering,” he said.
Mr. Zedeck helped design an…
January 17, 2013, 4:53 pm
Los Angeles — In an article this week, I describe “noncognitive” assessment as the next frontier in college admissions. Like any frontier, this one’s full of promise—and uncertainty. Enrollment officials who have begun to explore this realm describe many challenges therein.
Yet those challenges are well worth meeting, says William E. Sedlacek, a pioneer in the field of nontraditional assessment. On Thursday morning, Mr. Sedlacek, a professor emeritus of education at the University of Maryland at College Park and author of Beyond the Big Test: Noncognitive Assessment in Higher Education, urged colleges to consider new ways of evaluating applicants’ skills and potential. The traditional tools, he insisted, have reached the limit of their usefulness. “We can’t just continue down the same track,” he said.
Mr. Sedlacek spoke at a conference hosted by the University of Southern…
October 23, 2012, 11:00 pm
In the fast-changing realm of higher education, “grit” is becoming a red-hot word. Maybe you call it resilience, determination, or perseverance. Srikant Vasan defines it as “being able to get over obstacles as they appear in your path, to stand up when you’ve been punched down, to set a long-term vision and a goal for yourself, and be able to keep those in mind.”
How might colleges effectively measure—and promote—those kinds of noncognitive skills and habits among students? Mr. Vasan hopes to provide an answer. He is the founder and president of Portmont College, a new, low-cost associate-degree program created by Mount St. Mary’s College, in Los Angeles, and the MyCollege Foundation, which is financed by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The hybrid program, which will combine online and in-person components, was designed for students who have the potential to excel in…
October 5, 2012, 3:09 pm
Denver — Here at this giant gathering of admissions officers and high-school counselors, I keep hearing the same word over and over. People have mentioned it during sessions, uttered it over coffee, and probed its meaning in conversations. The word is “grit.”
It’s as good a word as any for the determination that many educators now associate with student success. Grit, as described by some researchers, is the habit of overcoming challenges, of learning from mistakes instead of being defeated by them. One administrator described it as “that fire in the belly.”
It’s long been said that test scores and grade-point averages don’t tell you the whole story about an applicant, but these days there’s growing interest in ways of measuring—and improving—student’s “noncognitive” skills, as speakers here at the National Association for College Admission Counseling’s annual meeting…
August 17, 2012, 3:25 pm
Emory University intentionally misreported its admissions data for more than a decade, with the knowledge and participation of the leadership of the admission and institutional-research offices, the university announced on Friday. That was the key finding in a three-month internal investigation conducted with the help of Jones Day, a law firm.
While Emory strives to be an ethical place, “we are a human institution,” said James W. Wagner, the university’s president, at a news briefing. “We are not perfect.”
The misreported data—sent to U.S. News & World Report and other recipients, including the U.S. Education Department—were discovered in May by John F. Latting, the university’s new assistant vice provost for undergraduate enrollment and dean of admission, who informed the provost.
The investigation found that two former deans of admission and the leadership of the…
July 26, 2012, 2:58 pm
After the ACT announced plans this month for a new assessment system, an array of provocative headlines followed. The Associated Press proclaimed: “Kindergarten Career Test in the Works by ACT.”
Is that an accurate description?
Not really. On Thursday morning, Jon Erickson, president of the ACT’s education division, stopped by The Chronicle’s office to discuss the organization’s plans for its new “college and career readiness” testing system, a digital assessment scheduled to make its debut in 2014. Initially, the system will span grades 3 through 12; later it will expand to cover kindergarten through the second grade.
In short, the purpose of the new series of tests isn’t to identify the 5-year-olds who will go on to become doctors, engineers, and asbestos-removal technicians, as deliciously terrifying as that might sound. There will not be a question designed to weed out…
July 2, 2012, 10:11 pm
Standardized tests don’t die; they just evolve.
On Monday, ACT Inc., the nonprofit group that owns the ACT exam, announced its plans for a “next generation” assessment system that would help students—from elementary school through high school—prepare for college and careers. The new system will align with the Common Core State Standards, and culminate with the ACT.
An online venture (with a pencil-and-paper option), the system would allow for faster access to score reports, and for “new and innovative” assessments, according to the organization’s Web site. It would also emphasize personalized preparation strategies for students early in the early stages of their academic careers.
The assessment would evaluate “multiple measures of student readiness—achievement, behaviors, and goals—aligned from early elementary grades through high school,” according to the ACT’s Web site…