A Look Inside a College Board Counselor Workshop
A Look Inside a College Board Counselor WorkshopAnne Sussman, Director, K-12 Communications at the College Board
At the College Board Counselor Workshop held at Fordham University on Sept. 25, the College Board’s Shameek Robinson gave a lively presentation on the redesigned SAT and PSAT/NMSQT to a room packed with high school counselors and administrators. Similar scenarios have been playing out across the country as the College Board works to make sure that the people who are guiding our students through the college planning process have the latest, most accurate information and resources available on our redesigned assessments, financial aid, and college advising in general.
Early in the workshop, a quick participant poll taken via smartphone revealed that only 44 percent of counselors in attendance felt “somewhat” or “very” comfortable talking about the changes to the redesigned SAT and PSAT/NMSQT. This prompted a discussion of the eight key changes to the SAT and how the PSAT 8/9 provides a baseline measurement of skills so teachers can monitor a student’s progress. Details on the new interactive score reporting portal were also shared as Shameek fielded questions from the audience.
More than one question had to do with the costs associated with applying to college. One counselor asked if the College Board had ever considered offering fee waivers for the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE instead of for college applications – because many colleges already waive those fees. This gave Shameek the opportunity to reveal an exciting new development: “Every student who uses an SAT fee waiver automatically gets a PROFILE fee waiver” beginning in the 2016-17 school year. The counselors responded with a hearty round of applause.
When asked what she thought of the workshop, Margaret Ellis, a counselor at Cardinal Spellman High School in the Bronx, said, “I really enjoyed it. I feel much more informed, and I’m happy to have materials I can take back and share with my colleagues.” She also said that some of her students had already taken a redesigned SAT practice test and were particularly happy with one of the changes. “They really liked the reading passages,” she said, because they were more interesting and relevant than her students were expecting.
Larry Cantor, a former teacher and counselor who now works as an administrator for New York’s Public School Athletic League, has attended the workshops for over 10 years. “I always find the information valuable,” he said. “The presenters are very good — very knowledgeable.” He then shared his favorite part about the redesigned SAT: “I think getting rid of the calculator for part of the test is excellent. I was a math teacher in the 80s and 90s, and I wouldn’t let my students bring a calculator into the classroom.”
At the end of his presentation, Shameek once again administered that same poll — but the results had changed. Now, 97 percent of attendees were somewhat or very comfortable in their knowledge of the redesigned SAT. Looking relieved but not at all surprised, Shameek thanked the attendees for coming and wished them a successful school year.