Since the announced changes to the SAT in March 2014, College Board officials have been on the world tour of high schools and education conferences trying to wow educators with their shiny new toy, the 15th iteration of the SAT. They’ve published exhaustive treatises on the research and specifications behind the changes, hosted dozens of gatherings and yet have provided no real information for the students who will actually take the test. These kids have been left to decode marketing-speak extolling the virtues of a test “more aligned with school work” and “based on a foundation of research.” Newspapers have picked up on the College Board’s talking points and parroted them without providing clarification, further confusing families and adding to the anxiety surrounding an already fraught time. So this leaves little ole me with the herculean task of laying plain that which has been obfuscated. I’ve been trying to work through each of the “8 Key Changes” and translate them into laymen’s terms so that they are more easily digested. Previously, I analyzed “Founding Documents and the Great Global Conversation“. As with that analysis, here I’ll also seek to answer these three key questions:
What does this really mean?
What level of impact will this change have for test takers?
Is this really a change or is it simply a redistribution of the same ole same?
This morning, as I waited for the Khan Academy to make available its “thousands of College Board/Khan Academy designed practice items” and its four official redesigned SAT practice tests, I caught up on Game of Thrones (and if you don’t know about GOT immediately stop reading this blog and go watch all 5 seasons or read the books). Naturally, the show (and lack of sleep) inspired connections and comparisons, the most interesting of which led me to ask myself which character in the world of Westeros is David Coleman? After much scholarly debate, exhaustive research, and painful soul-searching, I arrived at these three candidates. I now put it to you, fair denizens of the Digital Realm, to help me resolve the matter. Below are the contenders and my rationale for their inclusion, at the end is a poll. Enjoy!
The Holy Man
The new High Septon is devout and ascetic of nature while kindly and unassuming in appearance. Unlike his predecessor, who compromised his religious beliefs and practices to gain material comforts and enrich wealth of the Faith of the Seven, the new High Septon holds rigidly (perhaps too rigidly) to the rules of the church and the service of the people. The new High Septon has disregarded wealth and status in his application of the rules and punishments for violations of the rules of the church. His brand of equity and support of the common man has brought queens low and raised paupers high. His brand of leadership has upended the typical relation between church and state and the Septon believes that his knowledge of what’s right (guided by the holy word) is unquestionable.
Is Coleman ignoring education practice and custom? Is Coleman going to violently disrupt the current order? Is Coleman correct about the abusive and corrupting nature of the test prep industry? Is it the test prep industry ruining the purity of the testing process and does the responsibility fall to Coleman to root out that corruption? Is Coleman the evangelist of the education world here to recenter our mores and renorm our educational compass?
Lord Petyr Baelish, fondly known as Littlefinger, has risen from his humble beginnings to become not only a wealthy merchant (running the most successful brothel in King’s Landing) but also a landed lord in his own right. He has operated from the dark corners of society moving the visible and ostensibly more powerful players in the Game of Thrones into positions in which they are either beholden to him or subservient to him. As with our other candidates, there is a core of good to Littlefinger, there is an element of selflessness that is constantly at war with the selfishness of self-aggrandizement and preservation.
Is David Coleman the educational fleshpeddler, selling cheap wine and transient feel good moments which offer no lasting value but lull us into a feeling of comfort and security? Is Coleman operating from the fringes of education, lining up the dominoes so that the SAT and Common Core will fall the direction he wants? What is Coleman’s endgame, while it seems he isn’t seeking the throne (currently held by King Arne, first of his name) no one seems to understand what he is seeking? Are the underrepresented groups David Coleman’s Sansa Stark, to be maneuvered and positioned in what could be (after a great deal of pain and humiliation) an enormous benefit to their ultimate longevity and success?
Tyrion Lannister is the second son of arguably the most powerful family in Westeros, yet he is torn (and motivated by) the challenge of being born a “dwarf.” Tyrion has spent much of his life competing for his father’s affection and respect against his Adonis-like brother and statuesque sister using his rapier like intellect. He made a place in the corrupt and unkind world both because of and in spite of his family name. He’s turned his not-unsubstantial wit into a weapon not only in defense of family and realm but also to hide an honest and good heart.
Does the well intentioned Tyrion reflect David Coleman’s struggle to resolve his good intentions to support students with the need to hawk his primary moneymaker (the SAT). Is Coleman’s College Board Lannisters to ETS’s Targaryens? Is Coleman merely the scion of a powerful but corrupt family struggling to do the best he can with the lot in life his is given while working to help as many in the realm as possible?