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Removing Essay Requirement From SAT Misguided

March 31, 2014

This is short and says everything.

There are themes to this blog such as the importance of newspapers, how the process of government is important, and the need for gun control.  One of the other often-posted topics that spreads out over so many aspects of our society is the dumbing-down that continually takes place.  While some applauded the removal of the requirement for an essay portion of the SAT I saw this as a weakening of standards.

What is wrong with making sure a potential college student can enter higher education with the ability to communicate with a well-crafted presentation of ideas?  If they can not then we need to have a very serious discussion with the schools and teachers who failed them.

Unfortunately, the drive to educational excellence took a body blow recently when the College Board stripped from its SATs the requirement to write an essay.

In doing so, College Board officials reportedly said the exam needs to be more representative of what students study in high school and the skills they need to succeed in college and afterward. The test should offer “worthy challenges, not artificial obstacles,” according to College Board President David Coleman.

On the one hand, we can’t fault the College Board for wanting to test what students have been taught. But it is inane to suggest the essay portion of the SATs is not reflective on one’s needs in the job world.

“Yo,” “What’s up,” “LOL” or “:)” do not reflect the communication skills needed to win and hold a job. However, an ability to formulate thoughts and to convey those thoughts intelligently to others is critical to success.

Nationally syndicated columnist Kathleen Parker recently addressed the issue:

These tweaks (changes to the SATs) are a shame as educators lose measures that provided critical information. The essay, for instance, wasn’t a call to Emersonian excellence but was a way of determining whether a student can compose a coherent sentence. You know, subject, verb — all that stuff — not to mention whether one can think. If a person can’t write a series of sentences to express a cogent thought, does that person really qualify for a college education? For what purpose?”

We understand not every student is destined to be a Shakespeare, a T.S. Elliot or a Joseph Pulitzer. But putting a noun, verb and object in the proper order is not rocket science. And asking that the SATs test such knowledge and that it be taught in our classrooms is to demand only the basics in education.

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