New information on Common Core “alignment” by the ACT, SAT, and even GED exams raises questions about the impact Common Core will have on private and homeschooled students and their ability to “opt out” of the federally incentivized standards if they want to apply for college.
David Coleman, new head of the College Board—which administers the SAT—said in an interview with Education Week that one of his top priorities is to align the SAT with the new standards. “The Common Core provides substantial opportunity to make the SAT even more reflective of what higher education wants.”
Valerie Strauss at The Washington Post reported in February that the College Board sent an e-mail to all members of the College Board stating, in part:
In the months ahead, the College Board will begin an effort in collaboration with its membership to redesign the SAT® so that it better meets the needs of students, schools, and colleges at all levels.… In its current form, the SAT is aligned to the Common Core as well as or better than any assessment that has been developed for college admission and placement, and serves as a valuable tool for educators and policymakers.
In 2010, the ACT also released “The Alignment of Common Core and ACT’s College and Career Readiness System,” which offers assurance that the “ACT pledges to work with other stakeholders to develop strategies and solutions that maximize the coverage of the Common Core State Standards to meet the needs of states, districts, schools, and students.”
Even in states that do not sign on to Common Core, schools could find themselves having to align content with Common Core material in order to ensure student success on the SAT or ACT—something that could affect private schools.
Moreover, recent alignment of the GED assessment, sometimes used by homeschoolers to demonstrate content mastery, could pull homeschoolers into the Common Core web. The GED just made a major shift from its 2002 Series GED test to its 2014 GED test. Its justification: “The shift to the Common Core standards is happening nationwide at the current time.”
Proponents of the standards have tried to argue that Common Core is optional for states. But alignment of tests like the SAT, ACT, and GED poses new questions about the extent to which states, private schools, and homeschooled students will be compelled to accept national standards and tests.
Thankfully, tests like the SAT and ACT can be changed or replaced, even though they have begun a transition to Common Core. If a significant number of states pull out of Common Core, these exams can be modified, or there could be an opening in the market for other college entrance exams to take root.