David Coleman on Fostering Equity, Excellence, and Innovation in Schools
David Coleman on Fostering Equity, Excellence, and Innovation in SchoolsCrystal Barrick, Assistant Director, Communications
Last November, College Board President & CEO David Coleman spoke with nearly 200 school board members at the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE) Annual Conference in Atlanta, GA.
“Those of you who lead from the chairs of the school board,” Coleman began, “are often one of the only continuous forces and sources of stability we have in education. The work of education—the development of hope through practice, the cultivation of talents—takes time. And it’s your steady leadership at the rudder.”
After thanking these “citizen-leaders” for their commitment to students, Coleman discussed the many ways the College Board has worked to foster equity, excellence, and innovation in schools.
Highlights from Coleman’s speech are below. You can watch the full speech here.
Make Practice Free and Available for All.
“What if, for every young person, the PSAT is no longer just a practice test, but the beginning of practice?” asked Coleman. “What if it was that moment where [students] suddenly got personal feedback, and an invitation to attend to whatever they missed along the way that is now holding them back?”
While PSAT-related assessments do “tell you what you would’ve scored today on the SAT,” Coleman explained that now, they are much more than that. With Official SAT Practice, students can use their PSAT scores to see which math and reading skills they most need to improve, and then create a free, personalized practice plan on Khan Academy to tackle them.
No longer are students just getting a score—they’re getting clear guidance on what to do next. “The PSAT doesn’t tell you who you are,” said Coleman. “It’s an invitation to who you might be, through practice.”
And practice, says Coleman, has benefits beyond improving SAT scores. “I really don’t care that much about SAT scores, and I know that sounds strange.” he said. “What I care about is a young person, through practice, learning the invaluable and life-changing lesson that they can change their own trajectory through their own power and work. That is a lesson that prepares them for college, for work, for citizenship, and it can never be unlearned.”
Expand AP Access—Especially in Rural Communities.
Over the last 10 years, participation in the Advanced Placement program has nearly doubled. As the program has grown—and become more diverse—the courses have remained college-level, and performance has not declined. “The radical expansion of Advanced Placement has in no way diluted the standards of Advanced Placement,” said Coleman; for this reason, Nat Malkus, an independent researcher from the American Enterprise Institute, has called AP “the single happiest education story of the century.”
Coleman voiced the College Board’s commitment to never “watering down” the AP program, while expanding access even further—especially to rural students. “We cannot bypass rural communities any longer when expanding Advanced Placement,” said Coleman. “The College Board will invest in whichever rural school wants to join us in Advanced Placement. Because, whatever the cost to us, we are a nonprofit organization, and that is our commitment.”
And because learning the basics of computer science can lead to hundreds of career choices—and the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that more than 4.5 million STEM jobs opening up over the next decade will require a computing background—the College Board especially wants to ensure rural, minority, and female students have access to the new AP Computer Science Principles (AP CSP) course.
“We are going work with you to make AP CSP the gateway to our economy, available to any student who wants it, no matter how small their learning community is, at school or at home,” said Coleman.
End the War between College and Career.
When discussing whether school boards should prioritize preparing students for college or careers, Coleman said: “For too long we’ve been talking as if there’s this one thing, career, and this other thing, college, and how college is right for everyone. My view frankly is that we need to give kids and their families choices and power.”
So when redesigning the SAT, and launching AP CSP, the College Board asked employers which core skills they were looking for, and how we could help them recruit a more diverse workforce. And then we partnered with Roadtrip Nation to connect PSAT-related assessments to free career-planning tools, which allow “students to imagine their future and act accordingly.”
“I’ll tell you what kids don’t need to help them with their career,” said Coleman. “Another test. Please save your time and theirs. There is no single test that tells you whether you’re career ready or not… But what you can do is use assessment to begin a student on a personal journey to chart their path to what they might gain.”