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Why David Coleman is the most powerful educator in the country right now

david colemanfavicon Everyone says Arne Duncan is powerful, but if you really want to know who calls the shots about education in this country, it’s David Coleman.

Mr. Coleman is the guy responsible for the Common Core State Standards. He’s now the president of the College Board, which administers the SAT and Advanced Placement tests.

Today, Mr. Coleman announced that the College Board is changing the format and content of the SAT. This is big. The intent, he said, is to align the test with what is taught in high school and to level the playing field for lower-income students.

A few of the changes include: (1) Obscure vocabulary will go away, to be replaced with more common words students will face in college, (2) Readings will include a range of informational texts, including founding documents of the United States, (3) There will no longer be a penalty for incorrect answers, (4) The essay will be optional.

Do you see what’s happening here?

Yes, Mr. Coleman is aligning the SAT with the Common Core standards. Instead of testing students generally on their reading and math skills, the SAT will reflect the skills that students are supposed to learn in school.

This is great if you believe in the Common Core. And it’s horrible if you don’t like the Common Core. It’s as simple as that.

What’s crazy to me is how in just a few years, Mr. Coleman — a very smart guy who has never been a classroom teacher — has shifted a very decentralized American education system into an extremely consolidated one.

What’s also crazy to me is that few people know about Mr. Coleman. Except for a few radical Common Core detractors (like Diane Ravitch), Mr. Coleman is still pretty much a stranger.

Yet it’s pretty clear that he runs the show. It’s time that teachers and other folks interested in education find out more about Mr. Coleman. (I’m still a little leery about him, but maybe now it’s too late?)

Update: This week’s New York Times Magazine has an in-depth article about David Coleman and the changes to the SAT. Teachers College professor Lucy Calkins asks, “Are we in a place to let Dave Coleman control the entire K-to-12 curriculum?”  favicon

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