(10/31/2008)
The maker of the SAT is promoting the use of a new assessment test for middle school students, saying the test will better prepare them for college.

There are lots of critics.

Some say ReadiStep, the College Board's new standardized test, is part of a hysterical national arms race and could be useless for students.

"ReadiStep is a cynical marketing ploy that serves no useful purpose except to increase the College Board's revenue," said Robert Schaeffer, public education director at FairTest, an organization that focuses on improving student assessments.

The College Board says the test can provide a clear map for students, parents and teachers about what colleges want.

"We wouldn't be doing unless we thought our customers were interested in it," said Kristopher John, executive director of the ReadiStep program.

"It's not something we would do just to enter a market. We don't produce products just to enter markets," he said.

About half of the educators it surveyed indicated an interest in an assessment like ReadiStep, said spokeswoman Jennifer Topiel.

In West Virginia the new test enters an already crowded testing market.

Schaeffer points to the head of the College Board, former West Virginia Gov. Gaston Caperton.

The former governor is not an educator and has run the not-for-profit membership association more like a business, Schaeffer said.

The new test will not likely appear in West Virginia for a while.

The state Department of Education is committed to using the ACT Explorer to assess eighth graders until at least 2013.


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