Empowering Underrepresented Students to Succeed on the SAT/ACT


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Presented at the 2013 NPEA conference by: The Princeton Review Foundation and Bell Curves

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Empowering Underrepresented Students to Succeed on the SAT/ACT

  1. 1. Empowering Underrepresented Students to Succeed on the SAT/ACT Jay Rosner, Executive Director The Princeton Review Foundation NPEA Conference April 11, 2013 Copyright © 2013 Jay Rosner
  2. 2. Princeton Review Foundation, a 501(c)(3) Nonprofit• Mission: Fairness Advocacy & URM Services• National Partnerships – HBCUs, Hispanic Scholarship Fund, Cherokee Nation Foundation, KIPP Schools, NABC, etc.• Presentations & workshops: students, admissions staffs & high school faculty• Test critic for 20+ years, ETS litigation
  3. 3. Alignment: What Should a “College Prep” High School Provide for Students? ExtraCur ExtraCur SAT/ACT SAT/ACT GPA GPA (academics) (academics)4-Year College Admissions: Typical “College Prep” Selective App. “Weights” High School Expenditures
  4. 4. Why Do URMs Underperform on the SAT/ACT?• They’re rigged. See Chapter 6 in SAT Wars: in short, test questions are selected to favor high scorers (don’t tell students).• Additional factors include lack of testing (think cultural) capital, no test prep, disengagement, stereotype threat, etc.• Everyone (limits) can improve their score• Vocabulary quiz: hagwon? juku?
  5. 5. Wealthiest Blacks’ Average SAT Scores Are Lower Than Those of the Poorest Whites Blacks Hispanics Whites Asians12001150110010501000 950 900 850 800 750 700 Less than $35-50,000 $70,000 or $20,000 more Source: National Data, 2001 California SAT Report, The College Board
  6. 6. For Students: Jay’s Opinion of What The SAT Measures• How intelligent you are? No.• How well you’ll do in college? No. (only helps somewhat in FY GPA)• How good you are on SAT? YES !If you have a high test score, it just means that you’re good at the test. And, that’s all.• Can you improve your score? YES! Here’s what you need to do …
  7. 7. Quantity: How Much ACT (SAT) Prep Is Recommended by Jay?ACT/SAT prep minimums (course or self-prep):• 1.5 hours per day, of high-quality practice• 5-6 days per week• for 5-6 weeks, right up to the ACT• 3-4 practice tests, not more than one per weekLess, lower-than-your-best score? More, burn out?Did you do this? Rehearsal? Too much? It’s – ½ season of a high school sport
  8. 8. How Many Times?• Question: How many times should you plan to take the official SAT or ACT? ONCE. Prep intensively, and get it right the first time. But have a fall-back in mind, if you need it.• Both tests? Take a practice test of each (PSAT).• When, ideally, should most students take the official ACT or SAT? Spring as a junior, after prep! Why? Anyone not advised to do this? Seniors – get to it!
  9. 9. A Healthy ApproachWith students taking too many bubble tests:• Importance of SAT/ACT (not intelligence)• Different skills, timing, strategies• Target test date• Prep plan and/or materials• Practice tests• What can high school faculty do?
  10. 10. Suggestions to Assist URM StudentsHelping Students Prepare (easiest to hardest):•First, everybody does the PSAT (and PLAN)!•Easy & cheap is a full practice ACT/SAT•Test prep library books (online caution)•Encourage students to do some ACT/SATprep in study groups•A course taught by teachers? (Taking test?)
  11. 11. Leveraging Faculty to Motivate KidsStrategy: an energized SAT/ACT environmentTactics:• SAT/ACT prep• Faculty & staff awareness-to-support• Test as an adversary, faculty & staff are allies (Boston Arts Academy)• Sports analogies for performance – score points, stay in the game• Not cheerleading, but rising to the challenge• “Special” technique – faculty taking test
  12. 12. Tactics for Empowering Kids• We’re a team, test as adversary, cohort effect• Take control of the test – do the questions in the order best for you• Example: 2-pass (or 3-pass) reading comp. technique• Skipping questions (come back if time)• Note – not available on CATs (GRE)
  13. 13. SAT/ACT Free Throw Analogy• SAT : Academia :: FT Shooting : Basketball• SAT & FT Shooting: contrived, artificial, static, solitary, PREDICTABLE, limited context & skills w/mechanistic approach, confidence & psych factors• Academia & Basketball: complex, dynamic, broad open-ended skill set w/creativity, messy like life• Improvement: Virtually everyone (Shaq?) can improve with practice and some expert instruction• Moral - SAT and academia are significantly disconnected; different skills are involved (Shaq!)