Matt’s Past SAT/ACT News Update:

Matt O'Connor

Mar 06, 2018

Catherine Gewertz of Education Week writes that the Arizona State Board of Education has approved a plan under which school districts can choose to give the SAT, ACT, or another exam instead of the state's own high school test for federal accountability, AzMERIT. However, the new plan seems to be at odds with the testing provisions in the Every Student Succeeds Act.


Under the new plan, which begins in 2018-19, districts can offer the SAT or ACT college-admissions exams, Advanced Placement tests, or tests associated with the International Baccalaureate or Cambridge programs instead of the state's own accountability test, the AzMERIT.

The federal education law requires, however, that states administer one test statewide to all students. As Arizona was discussing the plan, in late 2016, officials at the U.S. Department of Education told Education Week that they were "concerned" about the state's plans.

The Arizona department of education's spokesman said told EdWeek that the approach "would appear to be in conflict" with ESSA.

Here is an azcentral (USA Today) article on the Arizona plan.

The Arizona legislature is also currently considering a bill that would mandate free SAT/ACT testing for all juniors, and the use of the tests as high school curriculum mastery assessments.


Instead of taking the state’s AzMERIT standardized test, high-school juniors would be required to take the SAT or ACT college entrance exams at no cost, regardless of whether they plan to go to college, if House Bill 2037 is signed into law.

Supporters say the bill would help students who plan to attain a postsecondary education and addresses the lack of incentive juniors have in taking the AzMERIT exam. High schools have struggled since AzMERIT’s 2015 debut to get their oldest students to take the exam seriously, mainly because the test has no academic consequence for them.

Also from Catherine Gewertz, an article about a recent study that found that the average US guidance counselor in high school is responsible for 482 students.


A report issued Thursday by two groups that represent school counselors shows that the national average student-counselor ratio was 482 to 1 in 2014-15, the most recent year for which data are available. In 2004-05, the average ratio was 479 to 1.

The two organizations pointed to research showing that counseling can influence students' postsecondary aspirations and improve the chances that they'll go to college.

A 2013 study by the College Board, for instance, calculated that adding one counselor to a high school's staff predicted a 10-percentage-point increase in its four-year-college enrollment. A separate report by NACAC showed that meeting one-on-one with a counselor to discuss financial aid or college triples students' chances of going to college and increases by sevenfold the likelihood that they'll apply for federal financial aid.

Wake Forest University sociology professor Joseph Soares has written an opinion piece that offers his view that "College admissions are better without SAT, ACT scores".


As noted in a book I edited, “SAT Wars: The Case for Test-Optional Admissions,” critics of the test-optional movement had claimed that test-optional colleges wouldn’t be able to select students of merit, standards would collapse and underachieving youths would run amok. The critics were wrong.

At Wake Forest, we’ve never had academically stronger students with as much racial, ethnic and economic diversity from across America than since 2009, when we went test-optional. As reported in The New York Times, the average high school GPA of our incoming freshmen increased after we stopped using standardized test scores as a factor. Prior to going test-optional, the percentage of incoming freshmen who were in the top 10 percent of their high school class was in the low 60s. Afterward, the newspaper reported, that figure rose to 79 percent.

It is a myth that standardized scores predict college performance better than high school grades. Even the College Board, which owns the SAT, only claims that the combination of high school grades and test scores together gives colleges the best statistical prognosis of a student’s future. For many colleges, the Board’s claims are not wrong. But the key questions for those who want to combine GPA with test scores are: How much added statistical power does that give you? And is that extra power worth the costs? Are there negative side effects of putting test scores on the scales?

It looks like college admissions consultant Steven Ma's $1 million contract to get a client's child into an Ivy League college has been exceeded, at least technically:


A tiger mom agreed to pay an astonishing $1.5 million to a college-admissions consultant to help get her kid into a prestigious prep school and Ivy League college, according to a lawsuit.

The stunning fee was charged by The Ivy Coach, a Manhattan-based “independent education consultant” firm that helps guide anxious parents and their children through the process of getting into elite boarding schools and colleges. The consultant is now suing the mother and daughter for allegedly paying only half the fee.

Vietnamese mom Buoi Thi Bui promised to pay in installments, in exchange for The Ivy Coach’s Bev Taylor helping Bui’s daughter, Vinh Ngoc Dao, apply to seven boarding schools and 22 universities, including Harvard, Princeton and Columbia, according to the lawsuit.