“The New York Times” has a fantastic, in-depth piece on the story behind the SAT changes. Entitled “The Story Behind the SAT Overhaul,” the piece by Todd Balf particularly paints an illuminating portrait of David Coleman, the president of the College Board. Coleman is portrayed as a refreshing leader who upon being named president of the organization brought in one of the College Board’s most outspoken opponents, an MIT director of writing named Les Perelman. Perelman had previously shown through case examples how students who peppered in SAT words like “plethora” on their writing sample could excel on this component of the exam, even if their facts were incorrect (i.e., stating that the War of 1812 began in the twentieth century). Perelman also pointed out to Coleman that at what other time in your life are you asked to write about a subject that you have previously never even considered? Never. Not in college. Not at work. Not in life. So why test this, right?
This particular depiction of Coleman by Balf was an amusing one to us: “When I met with Coleman in his office last month to talk about the remaking of the SAT, he periodically leapt from his chair when he became excited about an idea. At one point he jumped up and drew a dividing line down the middle of his whiteboard (he’s a very enthusiastic user of the whiteboard), then scrawled, ‘Evidence-based reading and writing’ on one side and ‘Math’ on the other. He was unveiling, at least in broad strokes, the results of those many months of rethinking and testing.”
David Coleman, a Yale graduate, seems very much to be a change agent. He seems to have been an excellent choice to lead the College Board and to change the SAT. Make no mistake, changing the SAT was also a strategic business decision as more students have been taking the ACT of late as compared to the SAT. But David Coleman, who brought in a man who didn’t agree with the College Board to understand where he was coming from and what ideas he had, seems to have been just the man to enact this change. Good for David Coleman and the College Board. Rare praise from Ivy Coach to the College Board, we know.