SAT Error: Test-takers Petition the CollegeBoard

As a follow-up to my previous post in regards to the June 2015 SAT Error, students are not accepting CollegeBoard’s promise of accurate scores despite the mishap. Media is to the rescue for these concerned students and parents.

Photo Credit: via Flickr from Justin C.)

Photo Credit: via Flickr from Justin C.)

A pair of students, Courtney Noll and Sarah Choudhury, began a change.org petition against the CollegeBoard. Change.org is a platform that allows users to sign petitions online instead of the traditional in-person route. This particular petition “June 6 SAT Error –Petition for an Optional Retest” allows test-takers from all over the country to help reach the same goal: an optional re-test.

I had the opportunity to ask Noll and Choudhury about their petition and why it’s so important to them. (See transcript below)

1. What are some things you want your fellow test takers to know?
Courtney: First off, I would like to tell all my fellow test takers to sign the petition!! And for those who have already signed it, I would like to tell them how much their support means to Sarah and me. I know how much this mistake affected everyone, and I want them to know that we will keep petitioning the College Board until we get our retest.
Sarah: Hello fellow test takers, I guess I will apologize on behalf of the College Board for their actions…..or the lack thereof for effectively combatting their printing error. I know there are a lot of you who feel cheated and deceived by the College Board’s new way of grading, and for those of you, I say you should sign the petition for a free optional retest before October! After all, our dreams and aspirations are being put in the hands of the College Board who seem to care more about their money, rather than the students!
2. What would you like the College Board to know (as if you were speaking directly to them)?
Sarah and Courtney: Dear College Board,

After the dozens of phone calls we exchanged, you probably know how disappointed we are with you and your actions. From scheduling a retest for us that didn’t even exist, to thinking it’s okay to estimate student’s scores, we think that it’s more than clear that we will continue to fight. We’ve gained more supporters than ever before, and they will stand with us. You know that a retest is only fair, but your bank account thinks that saving money should be put first. We recently received an email from you, and it ended with “Challenging all students to own their future.” But let us tell you how loaded and ironic that statement is. Not only, did we lose control of our future to you, but you somehow decided to jeopardize it too! Having a “range” be acceptable for SAT scores, is completely and utterly unacceptable. You know what’s right, now make it right.

3. What are your plans if your petition receives enough signatures?
Courtney: I will definitely take the retest! I’ll probably throw a celebratory block party actually maybe even a city party (do they have those?) it’s okay we’ll petition for one! Okay but in all seriousness, I would definitely want to do something special for all of our supporters.
Sarah: First of all, there is no question, I would take the retest with out a doubt! I would thank the College Board for finally making the right decision and putting the students’ interests first. My faith in humanity would be restored once again and I guess I would come to Courtney’s block party. But if that happens, we would not be able to achieve this feat without the help of our nationwide and international supporters.
4. What are your future aspirations?
Courtney: So it’s crazy to think that we’ll be applying to college this fall! My sister currently attends Stanford University, so that’s one of my top choices. I’m also looking at many of the other Ivy Leauge schools. I’m looking at a career in either business, political science, or even computer science. 
Sarah: Wow I can’t believe college apps are so close! I would like to go into the field of medicine and apply to seven year programs or undergrad programs. I’ve been looking at John Hopkins, Stony Brook, and maybe even Ivy Leagues. However, these dream schools rely heavily on my SAT scores. So I hope the College Board gets its act together.

According to the Washington Post, a little under 500,000 people registered for the June 2015 SAT. The petition’s goal is receive 1,000 signatures. As of today, June 17, they have 865 supporters. You can view the petition here.

(Thank you to TMRSAT for bringing the petition to my attention)

SAT Error Frustrates Test-takers

Students across the country complete standardized tests multiple times a year.(Photo Credit: via ccarlstead)

Students across the country complete standardized tests multiple times a year.(Photo Credit: via Flickr from ccarlstead)

There are big changes in store for the SAT in 2016, but what about now? During the June 6 testing date last week, there was an error printed in Educational Testing Service (ETS) booklets across the country. The error said to allow students 25-minutes on two of the sections instead of the actual allotted 20-minutes.

The Monday after the exam, CollegeBoard emailed June 2015 testers, notifying them  of the error, explaining the two sections would not be graded, and the test-takers would still receive accurate scores and would not need to re-test.

Screen Shot 2015-06-10 at 4.28.55 PM

Some test-takers, however, pointed out some unfairness in the CollegeBoard’s plans. What if a student scored well on the mislabeled sections, better than the sections that will be graded? By not grading the mislabeled sections, they are actually missing out on points they would have received. Some argued that a make-up should be mandatory or at least optional.

Bob Schaeffer is the public education director of the National Center for Fair & Open Testing and a known critic of the CollegeBoard. He does not see the June 2015 testing error as an isolated problem. He argues, “If reliable and valid scores can be generated from June 6 exams despite a missing section, why do students at other SAT administrations have to spend the additional time answering questions that the test-makers now say are unnecessary?”

Indeed, there are changes coming to the SAT in less than a year, but what about those who will take the exam during the 2015 fall and 2016 winter quarters? Will they have to take these additional two sections even though their scores can be graded without them?

The redesign of question content, no guessing penalty as well as other changes to the SAT will be released in Spring 2016. When the CollegeBoard first announced these implements, I reported on high school counselors’ and college admissions officers’ plans for the new test and if they would implement new procedures as well.

Just recently, Khan Academy announced free online SAT prep for students is now available. In addition to the new changes to the test’s format, CollegeBoard is also partnering with Khan Academy in order to give more students access to preparation materials. The CollegeBoard hopes these changes will create a more level playing field for students, no matter their means available for test prep.

Onslaught of Book to Movie: Review of “The Spectacular Now”

"The Spectacular Now" by Tim Tharp (2008) Photo Source

“The Spectacular Now” by Tim Tharp (2008) Photo Source

Tried and true, I read the book version of The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp (2008)before watching its movie counterpart. Unlike most of the books I review, I had high hopes for the movie version to be different for one simple reason: I absolutely detested the book.

If you read last week’s Monty’s Mayhem, my sentiment should come as no surprise. As an English major, I am often confronted with the question–“Did you really hate the book or was it the narrator?” For Invisible Man (1952), it was the narrator. For The Spectacular Now (2008), it was a bit of both. If you’ve actually read it (or are feeling gutsy enough to peruse a copy), you’ll find that the narrator, Sutter Keely, is not too much of a bad guy. He enjoys a good time, likes to tell stories and make people laugh, and he hates math. Seems like a typical, non-threatening teenager, right?

Well, what bugged me the most about Sutter is that he is drunk. All. the. time. He drinks first thing in the morning, he drinks before going to work and school and his sister’s fancy dinner party, and he drinks behind the wheel. Let’s ignore the fact that he is underage and try to assume that his boss, classmates, and family actually like the “buzzed” Sutter. Let’s, for the sake of argument, try.

Despite all of that, he is still driving under the influence and with the influence. Not only is this incredibly irresponsible in terms of his own health (he adamantly denies that he is an alcoholic), but also dangerously reckless with the lives of anyone near him or riding with him. I suppose that is where my main problem with Sutter stems from.

I can handle him being so unmotivated that he flunks math and misses graduation. I can handle him being so lost that he lies about where his father is yet jumps at the chance to see him. I can even handle (albeit barely) him messing with Amy, when it’s obvious her feelings overpower his (and don’t even get me started on her). I can handle what he inflicts on himself and on those who choose to be around him, but subjecting strangers to the aftermath of your actions is sickening.

“The Spectacular Now” Starring Shailene Woodley and Miles Teller (yes, they were both in “Divergent” as well) (2013) Secondary Photo Source

If you’re wondering how the movie (2013) differs, I make two time-saving suggestions to you. You can read the book, then skip the first eighty-six minutes of the movie and be caught up. The other option is to watch the movie all the way through (this way you can avoid reading the book) and realize the main difference between the movie and book occur after the eighty-six minute mark. Obviously, there are some major differences throughout the course of the film, such as

  • Sutter’s stepfather does not exist
  • The friendship between Ray and Sutter is less pronounced
  • Amy’s sister is located in Philadelphia instead of New Mexico
  • Sutter and Amy don’t go to the prom after-party

However, for the most part, the book and movie coincide very closely. Usually in book-to-movie adaptations, this is a good thing. I was just really hoping the screenplay would pull a Percy Jackson and not be like the book at all.

So what happens after the eighty-six minute mark? Unlike Book Sutter, Movie Sutter realizes the error of his ways. He works to get his well-to-do sister and mother reunited. Instead of just leaving Amy high and dry in Philadelphia alone (after he promised to go with her then bailed “for her own good”), Sutter goes there to surprise her and the film ends with Amy looking surprised but pleased. Considering that Sutter is the reason Amy became a heavy vodka drinker, had to get a cast on her arm (after she got clipped by a car on highway after he told her to get out of his car), and he abandoned her, I’m not sure if this ending is much of an improvement (for Amy at least).

Of course, almost anything is an improvement over Book Sutter going to get drunk, drive in swerves, fade into oblivion, and calling his life “spectacular.” Please, oh goodness, do not read this book and don’t see the movie. If you feel differently, please defend your position in the comments. I’m very curious to read your argument.

Book Review: The Most Frustrating Cliffhanger I Have Ever Encountered

[The post was originally drafted on Thursday, March 6, 2014]

Have you ever just read a book and it just completely messed you up?

Well, seeing as it’s currently 1:49 in the morning and I have an 8:30am class later, I would say that I am currently in that state.

My eyes are burning, my breathing is thick like it doesn’t want to leave my throat and yet I am completely wide awake. Wired, as if I downed a week’s worth of caffeine, but too anxious to put any of this energy to good use like to do reading for classes or study for a midterm.

I can’t stop thinking. My brain won’t turn off.

The cause this week?

Two causes actually.

Eleanor and Park.

"Eleanor and Park" by Rainbow Rowell (Picture from Goodreads)

“Eleanor and Park” by Rainbow Rowell (Picture from Goodreads)

Yet another novel by Rainbow Rowell but this one is geared towards younger folk (think high school students) and it takes place in 1986. I’m not sure how much time I spent reading the book since I first picked it up from the local library but I can confirm that a part of me has been itching to read more and more since I began.

Eleanor and Park is about two outcasts, well, misfits, well, perhaps goodreads does a better job of summing it up:

“Set over the course of one school year in 1986, ELEANOR AND PARK is the story of two star-crossed misfits – smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love – and just how hard it pulled you under.”

And boy, does it pull you under! This book had me on a roller coaster of ups and downs the entire novel as it shifts between Park’s and Eleanor’s perspectives. I’d like to say that I favor one over the other (it depends on the point in the story), but honestly, I feel for both of them.

What’s interesting about this novel (something that Fangirl, another book by Rowell has in common) is that there are some loose ends that are never tied up. In Fangirl, these loose ends pertain to Cath’s mother and her relationship with Levi (and Nick for that matter). In Eleanor and Park, it is a whole slew of things.

Sometimes characters do or say awkward or clumsy things, which, as readers who are teenagers or have been teenagers, we can put aside because explaining these actions don’t really matter to the plot. On the other hand, there are many more parts of the story line that are left unresolved at the end of the novel, such as:

  • Did Park get his comics back?
  • Did Eleanor and Park do the deed?
  • What happened to the rest of Eleanor’s family?
  • How did Richie discover Eleanor’s secret?
  • Why did Richie write those things (and was there any prior incident for it)?
  • What happened to Cal?
  • What happened to DeNice and Beebi?

And the biggest, possibly definitely most heart-wrenching, infuriating yet somehow understandable loose end is the ending.

Yes, the ending. The last four words of the book are probably what are contributing the most to my insomnia right now.

This ending is also what makes me hesitate from giving this book as positive a review as Fangirl. It’s so ambiguous.

In any case, I still recommend the book. Nerds abound (music, comics, and Star Wars fanatics) will love its references. It may not be for everyone but it’s an exciting read. Rowell uses staccato syntax to punctuate each chapter like rapid gun-fire–noticeable and exhilarating. I think regardless of age or background, this novel will make you feel nostalgic (sometimes not necessarily in a good way) of high school and first romance or torn (or, if you’re like me, both!). This book has some pretty intense situations for the characters, addressing themes of sexuality, morality, gender-roles, self-esteem, and family values without being preachy about them. In fact, the majority of the novel is pretty sarcastic and funny or confusing (ah, just like the teenage years). I honestly couldn’t stop turning pages, even with the onslaught of assignments and sleep prodding me to stop.

I feel the urge to warn you of the excessive use of profanity and abusive language. It doesn’t detract the novel’s content but just in case, there you go.