College admissions tests are changing. Yes, the College Board is drafting a new SAT test, and the ACT is also being revised. Some say this is good; others think the tests are being “dumbed down”. Regardless of your view, change is coming.
For the past 22 years, I have been involved in the education process of children – mainly as the result of needing to know how to properly teach my five children with what was required to do so.
Over the years I’ve met with governors, lawmakers, and school board representatives in order to keep bureaucracy from placing undue regulations on parents who choose to educate their children. I frequently attend education forums as a homeschooling authority and/or liaison to share the needs of the community, as well as to learn what may be coming down the pipeline.
Recently I met one of the writers of the new SAT in an effort to get to the truth behind the rumors that have been circulating. What will be different with this test in the future?
Well, it turns out the plans to update the tests have been in the works for years. The goal is to level the playing field between the haves and have-nots. Studies have shown that parents with more disposable incomes hire tutors and enroll their children in special prep classes to help their children get higher scores, while lower income or less fortunate students can’t or don’t get that kind of help.
The plan is to make the test reflect what the students are actually learning in the classroom. This may sound good; however, there is a flaw with this thinking. The assumption is that all students are learning at the same pace and level. The truth is you cannot make a student learn what is being taught in the classroom. Some schools have better teachers than others, better students, more engaged parents, and a bigger budget to allow them to purchase better technology.
We also discussed this new test in relation to Common Core. Even though many states are fighting this, the fact remains that there will be changes in our school systems. It seems that the test will complement what is being taught through the Common Core approach. One may doubt the validity of the public statement made that changes are not the result of Common Core, but in reality we just do not know how it will be implemented. This new nationalized education model could become problematic for the homeschooling community.
Homeschoolers will have to teach the Common Core method and content. If not, those students may be disqualified from receiving scholarship money, getting accepted into college, or even graduating. Yes, I know this seems farfetched. You may say, “But we have laws to protect homeschoolers.” While this is true, the problem is getting into college. When the federal government starts cutting off funding to any applicant that does not meet the new standards or has not adapted to the new testing, then the college stands to lose grant money.
What should the homeschool community do? My recommendation is to join the Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSDLA). They have spent over 30 years defending the rights of parents to choose the educational methods for their children. Not only do they provide legal help, they also offer assistance in every area of homeschooling. Don’t think that your state is safe for homeschoolers. Why? Frankly, it is because losing that freedom could be just a pen stroke away. Especially if Common Core is not stopped.
Next, parents should get informed. Many people have stayed on top of what is going on and are delighted to share what they have learned. While I agree with the notion of helping those less fortunate, I believe this is not accomplished by lowering the standards for every student.
Lastly, take action. Contact your state homeschool liaison, your elected officials in D.C., and your governor. Make sure you express, very respectfully, why you want them to oppose Common Core.
There have been many who have paved the way for your freedom to choose the educational method for your children. Now it is time to pick up the torch and start running. Don’t let all the work others have done for you and your family fall by the wayside.