WASHINGTON (AP) — Essay optional. No penalties for wrong answers. The SAT college entrance exam is undergoing sweeping revisions. Changes in the annual test that millions of students take will also do away with some vocabulary words such as "prevaricator" and "sagacious" in favor of words more commonly used in school and on the job. College Board officials said Wednesday the update — the first since 2005 — is needed to make the exam better representative of what students study in high school and the skills they need to succeed in college and afterward. The test should offer "worthy challenges, not artificial obstacles," said College Board President David Coleman at an announcement event in Austin, Texas. The new exam will be rolled out in 2016, so this year's ninth graders will be the first to take it, in their junior year. The new SAT will continue to test reading, writing and math skills, with an emphasis on analysis. Scoring will return to a 1,600-point scale last used in 2004, with a separate score for the optional essay. For the first time, students will have the option of taking the test on computers. One of the biggest changes is that the extra penalty for wrong answers, which discouraged guessing, will be eliminated. And some vocabulary words will be replaced with words such as "synthesis" and "empirical" that are used more widely in classrooms and in work settings. Coleman said many students who are terrified they will be tested on lots of SAT words currently have one recourse: drilling with flashcards. He said educators know that flashcards are not the best way to build real word knowledge that lasts, but "when the SAT rolls around they become the royal road. Students stop reading and start flipping." The essay will be changed in other ways, too. It will measure students' ability to analyze and explain how an author builds an argument, instead of measuring the coherence of the writing but not the quality or accuracy of the reasoning. It will be up to school districts and colleges the students apply to as to whether the essay will be required. Each exam will include a passage drawn from "founding documents" such as the Declaration of Independence or from discussions they've inspired. Instead of testing a wide range of math concepts, the new exam will focus on a few areas, like algebra, deemed most needed for college and life afterward. A calculator will be allowed only on certain math questions, instead of on the entire math portion. A longstanding criticism of the SAT is that students from wealthier households do better on the exam because they can afford expensive test preparation classes. The College Board seeks to defuse that by saying it will partner with the nonprofit Khan Academy to provide free test preparation materials for the redesigned SAT. It also says every income-eligible student who takes the SAT will receive four fee waivers to apply for college, which continues an effort the College Board has had to assist low-income students. These are the first SAT upgrades since 2005 when the essay portion was added and analogy questions were removed. There have been other notable changes to the test, such as in 1994 when antonym questions were removed and calculators were allowed for the first time. The test was first used in 1926. The SAT was taken last year by 1.7 million students. It has historically been more popular on the coasts, while the other popular standardized college entrance exam, the ACT, dominated the central U.S. But the ACT overtook the SAT in overall use in 2012, in part because it is taken by almost every junior in 13 states as part of the states' testing regimen. Last year, the ACT said it would begin offering computer-based testing in 2015. _____ Online: College Board: https://www.collegeboard.org/ Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Husband and wife political pundits James Carville and Mary Matalin will be the keynote speakers March 20 for the 2014 Shatto Lecture Series.
The Youth Success Academy (YSA) on the Floyd County Campus of Georgia Northwestern Technical College (GNTC) is helping out-of-school youth get their GED, start college with many expenses covered, and begin their path to a successful career.
School Board members will be busy folks in the coming month as they hope to educate the public about coming plans for making Polk County schools some of the best in the state in the next five years.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Even the scoreboards in high school gyms eventually will have to promote good health.
Moving beyond the lunch line, new rules that will be proposed Tuesday by the White House and the Agriculture Department would limit marketing of unhealthy foods in schools. They would phase out the advertising of sugary drinks and junk foods around campuses during the school day and ensure that other promotions in schools were in line with health standards that already apply to school foods.
That means a scoreboard at a high school football or basketball game eventually wouldn't be allowed to advertise Coca-Cola, for example, but it could advertise Diet Coke or Dasani water, which is also owned by Coca-Cola Co. Same with the front of a vending machine. Cups, posters and menu boards which promote foods that don't meet the standards would also be phased out.
Ninety percent of such marketing in schools is related to beverages, and many soda companies already have started to transition their sales and advertising in schools from sugary sodas and sports drinks to their own healthier products.
The proposed rules are part of first lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move initiative to combat child obesity, which is celebrating its fourth anniversary this week. Mrs. Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will announce the new rules at a White House event.
"When parents are working hard at home, they need to rest assured that those efforts aren't being undone when kids are out of their control at school," Sam Kass, White House senior nutrition policy adviser, said ahead of the announcement.
The rules also would allow more children access to free lunches and ensure that schools have wellness policies in place.
The proposed rules come on the heels of USDA regulations that are now requiring foods in the school lunch line to be healthier.
Rules set to go into effect next school year will make other foods around school healthier as well, including in vending machines and separate "a la carte" lines in the lunch room. Calorie, fat, sugar and sodium limits will have to be met on almost every food and beverage sold during the school day at 100,000 schools. Concessions sold at afterschool sports games would be exempt.
The healthier food rules have come under fire from conservatives who think the government shouldn't dictate what kids eat — and from some students who don't like the healthier foods.
Aware of the backlash, the USDA is allowing schools to make some of their own decisions on what constitutes marketing and asking for comments on some options. For example, the proposal asks for comments on initiatives like Pizza Hut's "Book It" program, which coordinates with schools to reward kids with pizza for reading.
Rules for other school fundraisers, like bake sales and marketing for those events, would be left up to schools or states.
Off-campus fundraisers, like an event at a local fast-food outlet that benefits a school, still would be permitted. But posters advertising the fast food may not be allowed in school hallways. An email to parents — with or without the advertising — would have to suffice. The idea is to market to the parents, not the kids.
The rule also makes allowances for major infrastructure costs — that scoreboard advertising Coca-Cola, for example, wouldn't have to be immediately torn down. But the school would have to get one with a healthier message the next time it was replaced.
The beverage industry — led by Coca-Cola Co., Dr. Pepper Snapple Group and PepsiCo — is on board with the move. American Beverage Association President and CEO Susan Neely said in a statement that aligning signage with the healthier drinks that will be offered in schools is the "logical next step."
"Mrs. Obama's efforts to continue to strengthen school wellness make sense for the well-being of our schoolchildren," Neely said.
Although Mrs. Obama lobbied Congress to pass the school nutrition bill in 2010, most of her efforts in recent years have been focused on the private sector, building partnerships with food companies and retailers to sell healthier foods.
The child nutrition law also expanded feeding programs for hungry students. The rules being proposed Tuesday would increase that even further by allowing the highest-poverty schools to serve lunch and breakfast to all students for free. According to the USDA and the White House, that initiative would allow 9 million children in 22,000 schools to receive free lunches.
The USDA has already tested the program, which is designed to increase participation for students and reduce paperwork and applications for schools, in 11 states.
In addition, the Obama administration will announce new guidelines for school wellness policies. Schools have been required to have general wellness policies that set their own general standards for foods, physical activity and other wellness activities since 2004. But the new rules would require parents and others in the school community to be involved in those decisions.
The Polk School District Board of Education invites the public to a community meeting to present the future direction of the Polk School District.
ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia's state school board is considering how to ease the burden on school districts to make up days lost because of abnormally bad weather.
Districts statewide have been forced to cancel classes numerous times this school year because of ice and snow.
Under a plan that will be considered by the Georgia's State Board of Education on Thursday, districts would not be required to make up nine days lost to weather. Georgia schools are normally required to be open to students at least 180 days a year, although some districts receive special waivers to have a shorter school year.
Education board chairwoman Helen Rice tells The Atlanta Journal-Constitution students will still be required to take all standardized tests, despite spending less time in the classroom.
Polk County Schools will be closed on Tuesday, Feb. 11 due to inclement weather. Check back at thepolkfishwrap.com for future school closing updates.
DALTON – Beyond your traditional avenues of financial assistance to go to college, Northwest Georgia residents ages 19-to-21 may be eligible for extra aid in 2014.
ATLANTA -- A half-dozen contract-school workers complained Thursday they weren't allowed to testify before a House committee voted to end their unemployment benefits.
James K. Henry, director of Operations Support at Shaw Industries, was recently sworn in as Georgia Northwestern Technical College’s newest Board of Directors member by Pete McDonald, president of GNTC, at a meeting held on the Gordon County Campus.
ATLANTA -- Without the chanting, poster-waving children and cheers of the previous day, a button-downed coalition of business and education groups staged a Capitol press conference Wednesday pledging to counter the message of Tuesday's rally in opposition to the Common Core education standards.
Polk County School officials announced this afternoon the district will remain closed through Friday.
Local educator Ray Hammett has decided to try and hang up his hat again, and maybe the third time will be the charm.
Officials from Polk County Schools announced today students will be let out of classes early on Tuesday afternoon due to the threat of winter weather in the area.
The DECA club of Cedartown High School came back home this week with a second place finish overall in region competition held in Paulding County.
A small number of Cedartown Middle School students got a special treat for their perfect attendance today.
Cedartown High School will be hosting two different parent nights coming up in February to help students rising in grade levels help decide what their high school careers might look like in the future.
Polk County Schools will be in session during regular hours on Friday, but officials are asking parents to make sure children are bundled up before getting on the bus in the morning.
Students from the Health Occupations and Business and Computer Science classes at Rockmart High School now have a better understanding of a career in these fields.