Grading essays takes more time than grading multiple choice questions, so it probably shouldn't come as a surprise, but the College Board is taking two extra weeks to prepare the results of the first SAT to contain an essay question.
More than 300,000 students took the SAT March 12, the first time the revamped version of the test was offered. An essay test was added and other changes were made -- such as dropping the notorious analogy questions -- that were designed to make the test less coachable.
Results had been expected as early as Monday. But in a speech this week, Brian O'Reilly, executive director of the SAT, told a group of Roman Catholic school officials that the scores would be delayed until April 11 (for phone or online information) or April 18 (for scores to be mailed), according to a report in The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Critics of the College Board jumped on the news to suggest problems with the new test. Bob Schaeffer, public education director of the National Center for Fair & Open Testing, said that the delay could create problems for some high school students seeking to use their new scores, and pointed to the difficulty of consistently grading essays.
A spokeswoman for the College Board said that officials there have made clear for some time that scores from the March 12 date "would be slightly different," but she said that this was not a significant problem.
"In the interests of students, the additional two weeks are needed in order to perform analysis of the writing scores (essay and multiple choice) to ensure that a given performance on the SAT will receive the same score across all administrations," she said.
In his comments on the SAT, O'Reilly also warned that people should not read too much into the results of the first group to take the new test. "It's really a self-selected population,"the Inquirer quoted him as saying, of high school seniors making a push for higher scores and highly motivated juniors who wanted to experience the new test.