Sunday, April 06, 2008


All Your Essay Are Belong To Us

Remember how, back in 2005, MIT director of undergrad writing Les Perelman damningly discovered a virtual one-to-one correspondence between SAT essay length and scoring? Last year the Chronicle of Higher Ed covered Perelman running the College Board's pants up the flagpole yet again, this time by having students submit long but incoherent essays. They duly received a 5 out 6 -- with, by the College Board reasoning, an essay that "demonstrates strong critical thinking, generally using appropriate examples."

Ah. Well, surely the College Board then took steps to fix this test. Yes?

Um... Passing unnoticed was this tidbit buried deep in a Wired article last month about retaking the SAT at age 38:

My score on the essay question — the College Board breaks out a separate assessment — was shockingly low. One grader gave me 4 out of 6 ("adequate mastery"), the other 3 ("displays developing facility in the use of language").

And who is this "developing" writer? Why, that would be Steve Knopper, who during his remedial period has written for the Chicago Tribune, Wired, Spin, Rolling Stone, Newsday, and Esquire.

Say, good luck with that "learning to write" thing!

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