College Board Delays New SAT Until 2016

The College Board has delayed the release of the revamped SAT by one year, the organization announced on Tuesday. The new examination will make its debut in the spring of 2016.

At the College Board’s annual conference, in October, David Coleman, its president, said colleges would get an early look at the new test this winter, a year ahead of the original rollout date. But in an email to college counselors on Tuesday, Mr. Coleman said feedback from admissions officials and other experts had persuaded the organization to push back its schedule. “We heard clearly from our members … that you need more time, and we listened,” Mr. Coleman wrote.

Officials at elementary and secondary schools have told the College Board that they wanted students to take the revised PSAT—scheduled for a fall 2015 release—before the revised SAT, according to Mr. Coleman’s email. Staggering the arrival of the new SAT, he wrote, would allow that to happen, while giving colleges two years to plan and to “familiarize themselves with changes.”

Robert A. Schaeffer, public-education director at FairTest, a watchdog group, said in an email that he wasn’t surprised by the announcement: “I always thought that David Coleman’s initial target of a spring 2015 rollout for the latest ‘new’ SAT was incredibly optimistic, given the College Board’s normal process for developing items.”

Ned Johnson, president and founder of PrepMatters, a tutoring and test-preparation service in Maryland, wondered whether admissions officials were as enthusiastic about the new SAT as the College Board was. “Change is disruptive,” he said. “I don’t know if colleges are actually ready for it. People who have done college admissions for a long time, they’ve seen various iterations of the SAT. I suspect they’re thinking, ‘We’re doing fine right now. How much are you really going to improve this thing so that it’s worth the disruption to us?’”

In the long run, Mr. Johnson suspects, wariness about the new SAT will mean greater market share for the ACT. The latter has overtaken the SAT as the nation’s most widely used admissions test.

The College Board has yet to reveal details about the forthcoming changes in the SAT. In an email to the organization’s members last February, Mr. Coleman said the College Board would revise the exam so that it “mirrors the work that students will do in college.”

In 2012 Mr. Coleman told The Chronicle that he hoped to align the SAT with the Common Core standards, which prescribe what students should learn, in English and mathematics, from kindergarten through high school. He has also criticized the SAT’s required essay, which measures how students write—but not what they write.

The College Board will provide more information about the new exams this coming spring, Mr. Coleman wrote in Tuesday’s email.

(Note: The first reference to the new PSAT in Mr. Coleman’s email, which went sailing through cyberspace on Tuesday, said the exam would be released in the fall of 2015; the second reference said it would be released in the spring of 2015. The latter statement was a mistake, according to a follow-up message from the College Board. The PSAT is offered only in the fall, and that isn’t changing.)

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