High school is a busy, exciting, and challenging time for students. College and career goals are closer than they’ve ever been, and figuring out the best options for both can seem daunting. As a former high school teacher and principal, I’ve seen how hard it can be for students to balance competing priorities, and how rewarding it is when students achieve their goals for life after high school. Principals, teachers, and counselors play a key role in helping students achieve those goals. That’s why when students sit down to take a test, it should have value for them and for the educators who support them on a daily basis.

What makes a test valuable? Alignment of classroom instruction with a connection to opportunities that make it easier for students to navigate a path to college and a career lend value. When educators have access to evidence-based assessment results, they can help students understand where they are doing well and where they need to improve.

That’s why the College Board recently redesigned the SAT Suite of Assessments (SAT, PSAT/NMSQT, PSAT 10, and PSAT 8/9) to focus on the knowledge and skills that matter most for college and career success—the same knowledge and skills students learn in their classes every day. The SAT suite is designed to be an integral part of the instructional process, providing actionable feedback about student progress toward meeting college and career standards. The results from the assessments yield in-depth score reports that provide performance benchmarks, question-level analysis, and information on which AP courses students are prepared for.

K–12 Score-reporting Portal (K–12 Portal)

Educators can access scores and reports from the SAT Suite of Assessments by using the K–12 portal. The K–12 portal generates score reports that compare student performance at the school, district, and state levels, including means and trends among demographic groups. Through a single login at k12reports.collegeboard.org/login, principals, counselors, and teachers can use and analyze all data to better serve their students. Principals can use the scores and reports in the K–12 portal to support student growth, help teachers inform their instruction, and monitor school improvement goals.

Optimizing SAT Suite Results 

Individual student score reports are intended to show students where they’re doing well and where they need some extra help, so they can take responsibility for improving. With each assessment, students not only receive a total score and section scores, they also receive cross-test scores and subscores to pinpoint problem areas. Students can use this information to set goals for themselves and track their progress toward meeting those goals.

Score reports use color-coded indicators to demonstrate whether students have met or are approaching the benchmark, or if they need to strengthen their skills to meet the benchmark. Principals can use these score reports to identify students who are ready for more challenging coursework and to target intervention strategies for students who need support. For instance, consider using the Instructional Planning Report to identify groups of students whose scores demonstrate a need to strengthen algebra skills and organize a study group for those students. Students who exceed the math benchmark can be asked to help set up a peer-tutoring program.

Monitoring and AdjustingCurriculum and Instruction

When reviewing the performance of groups of students, test data can be used to determine whether the work done in various classes is aligned to college and career readiness. For example, the Question Analysis Report indicates which knowledge, skills, and question types students are struggling with. Principals can analyze these numbers and determine if there’s a need to review curriculum in a particular subject area.

Because SAT Suite score reports also link directly to state standards, principals can work with teachers to identify gaps in instruction and find solutions for improving performance in that area. SAT Suite score reports also support the development of schoolwide systems for monitoring student performance and informing school improvement planning. Each assessment in the SAT Suite is set on the same vertical scale, allowing principals to track student progress over time and see trends in performance and benchmark achievement. Principals can also view the data disaggregated by school, classroom, and student demographics. The Scores by Demographics Report can be used to monitor how each student demographic group is performing relative to others.

SAT Practice on Khan Academy: A Tool for Improvement

To supplement classroom learning and help students perform their best on each assessment, the College Board has partnered with Khan Academy to provide free, personalized practice. Students can link their College Board and Khan Academy accounts to access tailored practice recommendations, six official practice exams from the College Board, and thousands of practice questions written in collaboration with the developers of the SAT. More than 1.7 million students have signed up for Official SAT Practice since 2015.

Getting Results from Your Results

The SAT Suite of Assessments provides evidence-based results that give students the information they need to take charge of their own learning. At the same time, it equips principals with tools for assessing and improving college and career readiness in schools and gives teachers and counselors targeted information so they can best support their students’ growth. With detailed performance data to inform classroom instruction, as well as personalized practice, principals can use test score results to take specific steps toward improving the curriculum and making the most of their students’ education. 

Martha Morris is the director of K–12 Outreach and Resourcs at The College Board in New York.

Making It Work

How to Make This Program Succeed at Your School

  • Make sure all staff and students have College Board accounts, and ask them to access test results. Use collaborative professional learning meetings to analyze scores and reports and to plan opportunities for improvement.
  • Create opportunities in computer labs for students to sign up for Official SAT Practice on Khan Academy and link their College Board accounts at www.satpractice.org.
  • Visit www.sat.org/k12 for more information onthe SAT suite, score resources, and links to the K–12 portal.
  • Remind your counselors to take advantage of Score Week for Counselors (www.psat.org/scoreweek) December 5–10, 2016. During this period of educator only access to PSAT/NMSQT scores, counselors can get targeted online training, along with digital and print resources.