SAT Committee Chair Donald Kamentz Gears up for 2015 and the Redesigned SAT
SAT Committee Chair Donald Kamentz Gears up for 2015 and the Redesigned SATAbby Hexter, Associate Director of Member Communications, The College Board
Donald Kamentz, Director of College Initiatives at YES Prep Public Schools, was recently named Chair of the College Board's SAT Committee. This group of K12 and higher education educators meets regularly with College Board staff to discuss topics related to the SAT. This year with the implementation of the College Board's assessment redesign, the SAT Committee will be particularly busy. All Access caught up with Donald to discuss his term as chair, and what to expect from the Committee over the next two years.
All Access: When, and why, did you first become involved with the College Board’s committees and governance?
Donald Kamentz: I first joined the SAT Committee in November 2011. Having been involved in the college admission field (on both the higher ed and K–12 sides) for many years and, in particular, working with predominantly low-income, first-generation college-bound students at YES Prep Public Schools, I felt that my diverse experience could be an asset to the committee and our collective work — to ensure that our focus is on ALL students and assisting them with building their college knowledge while creating opportunities and possibilities rather than limiting them.
AA: Who makes up the SAT Committee, and how often does the committee meet?
DK: The SAT Committee is comprised of educational professionals from both the K–12 and higher education sectors. Formally, the committee meets three times a year (in November, January, and May), with conference calls and other interactions throughout the year.
AA: How does your involvement with the SAT Committee and the College Board influence your day-to-day work at YES Prep?
DK: I believe my day-to-day work at YES Prep directly and heavily influences my work on the SAT Committee and with the College Board, and as one would suspect, it occurs vice versa as well. The robust College Board programs and assessments that are used by YES Prep and our students, including PSAT/NMSQT, SAT, AP, and CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE®, all directly inform and guide our instruction in our classrooms. Equally, it’s this work in our schools that directs my focus and energies on the SAT Committee, working to ensure these programs provide much-needed support for my colleagues and students, not becoming hindrances or obstacles to postsecondary opportunities.
AA: What are some of the overall goals of the SAT Committee for the coming two-year term?
DK: Some of our overall goals for the work of our committee over the next two years include:
- Advocacy for continued transparency with the redesign and all aspects of the PSAT/NMSQT and SAT programs
- Ongoing use of the committee members’ expertise to help guide the operational implementation, communications, and support of the redesign
- Greater collaboration across the different programs and divisions within the College Board directly involved in the redesign, but on the micro and macro levels
AA: The redesign of the SAT and the College Board Readiness and Success System will clearly be a major focus of the committee over the next two years. How will the committee prioritize the different elements of the redesign at the right times to best serve the higher ed and K–12 communities throughout the rollout?
DK: Working very closely with all teams involved with these areas at the College Board, the SAT Committee will continue to provide the expertise and counsel that it has since the redesign was announced last year and thus will provide the continuity of knowledge and support that we believe will be especially pivotal over the next two years and beyond. At our meetings, and via email updates and conference calls, there is always a concurrent focus on several concerns — on the redesigned assessments themselves, on how the latest information and components are being shared out to our members, and on the support needed for smooth implementation. Having day-to-day practitioners from diverse K–12 and higher ed institutions on the committee allows us to ensure all perspectives and considerations are addressed by the College Board teams most directly working on these areas.
AA: Talk a little bit about the shift that members will see to the PSAT™ 8/9 and PSAT/NMSQT. What’s different about the PSAT/NMSQT? What will remain the same?
DK: The redesigned PSAT/NMSQT will be aligned with the redesigned SAT and will launch in October 2015. Like the SAT, the redesigned PSAT/NMSQT will measure the skills and knowledge that are essential for college readiness and success. Here are some of the key changes students will encounter on the redesigned exams:
- Relevant Words in Context
- Command of Evidence
- Essay analyzing a source
- Focus on Math That Matters Most
- Problems Grounded in Real-World Contexts
- Analysis in Science and in History/Social Studies
- Founding Documents and Great Global Conversation
- No Penalty for Wrong Answers
AA: What are some opportunities for members to engage with the committee, or the College Board in general, throughout the implementation process?
DK: First off, I would encourage all members to learn more about the specific changes on the SAT redesign, along with available supporting materials at the College Board’s dedicated website for the redesign.
Knowing that both the SAT Committee and Higher Education Working Group are made up of representatives from both K–12 and higher ed, I encourage everyone to seek out those members you might know to provide any thoughts, suggestions, and recommendations to best assist you and, most importantly, our students and families. Utilize the opportunities to engage College Board staff at many of the events sponsored by the College Board such as regional and national forums, as well as those sponsored by other organizations where College Board staff is in attendance.
Remember, the College Board is a membership-driven organization and its goal is to support members in their collective service to students and their families.