US: New SAT test not much better than old one

In 2005 the College Board unveiled the most dramatic changes in years in the SAT, reports Scott Jaschik in Inside Higher Ed. The dreaded analogies were removed. Mathematics questions were updated. A writing section was added, resulting in the test getting longer. Last week the College Board released 'validity studies' in which, for the first time, results on the new SAT were correlated with first-year grades earned by students who enrolled at four-year colleges. College Board leaders hailed the results as great news. "But the reports themselves suggested that the SAT's strengths and weaknesses were not much different from before the big changes," Jaschik writes. The validity studies are available on the College Board website.

Gaston Caperton, president of the board, said that the studies contained "very important and positive news" for colleges, in particular that the writing test's addition had worked and had brought much more attention to writing instruction.

But according to one of the studies, which examined the overall reliability of the SAT: "The results show that the changes made to the SAT did not substantially change how well the test predicts first year college performance." This study also found - and this is unchanged from studies of the old SAT - that the single best way to predict a high school student's performance in the freshman year of college is through high school grades, not the SAT.

The other report focused on "differential validity," meaning the question of whether the SAT is equally accurate in predicting the college success of different kinds of students, Inside Higher Ed continues: "Many defenders of the SAT had hoped that the addition of the writing test might have made a difference, especially in the trend in which the SAT has tended to under-predict the abilities of females who take the test and to over-predict the skills of men. But here, too, the new SAT appears to have the same problems as the old SAT."
Full report on the Inside Higher Ed site
Complete studies on the College Board site