Since its switch in 2005 to include an essay section and other edits (including the removal of the analogies section) there has still been growing concern that the correlation of high test scores did not connect with achievement, but rather with income. The new President of the College Board, David Coleman, has been endeavoring to change that fact with the changes announced just yesterday. He is attempting to include more synthesis and reasoning-type questions to model the Common Core's focus and impress upon students the need to justify work instead of memorizing facts and figures. The math section will even include a piece that restricts the use of a calculator.
As Diane Ravitch points out in her blog, however, some organizations (like FairTest) find continued flaws in how these standardized test are being used as minimum markers for college acceptance. She mentions the fact that there are a growing number of schools that do not require the SAT scores to be sent and will not penalize students who haven't taken the exam.
In spite of this, there are some organizations with noble goals that want to help those needing to take this test. The Khan Academy has developed a partnership to help students of low-income families get online assistance in preparation for the SAT. I still need to mention a criticism, however, as it is only accessible to those who have enough money for the Internet, either through computers or SmartPhones. Ideally, no test prep would be required and so we could remove the correlation altogether.
I have been an outspoken critic of standardized tests my entire career. Even before I decided to become a teacher I wrote an essay in my junior year of high school entitled, The SAT: Assessment of Potential or Evaluation of Background, in which I criticized the test for connecting too closely to income. I don't think these tests are the way to go for the future, even with the shift Coleman is attempting with the College Board. I hope more schools realize that tests are a poor measure of student performance and get to know kids more on a social and emotional level before deciding whether to accept or reject them.
In the meantime, I guess my score on the SAT will make more sense to my students...