Dec 14, 2015

PSAT scores delayed as College Board drops the ball—again

In the first real test of the new suite of standardized assessments the College Board hopes to sell to
school systems, colleges and college applicants, bugs in score reports are resulting in delays in providing the first new PSAT score results to students.

In an email sent to high school counselors on the day the scores were expected to be posted and sent, the College Board announced that PSAT/NMSQT results would be significantly delayed until January. The new, recently posted schedule for score delivery schedule is as follows:

  • January 6:  Educators will get a one-day jump on everyone else by being able to access a special score reporting portal
  • January 7:  Students will be able to access their scores, the PSAT/NMSQT Selection Index and “AP Potential” information at
  • “By” January 29:  Educators will receive paper score reports

Throughout the fall, the College Board sent staff to meet with counselors in a series of forums designed to present and promote the new assessments.  Print materials supported by the accompanying lecture clearly indicated that scores would be provided to students and school counselors by mid-December at the latest.

The hope was that students could then send their scores to the Khan Academy for “personalized practice recommendations” based on their performance and begin working on practice questions over winter break. The unspoken objective was to provide students with confidence in their ability to master the “new” SAT in time for the launch in early spring and encourage registration for the March, May or June tests.

And counselors took this information to the bank, assuring students and families that feedback from the PSAT in December would give them an idea of whether or not to pursue registering for the new test or to just stick with the ACT, which is already benefiting greatly from the list of unknowns plaguing the redesigned SAT.

All this is now out the window, as the principal stakeholders have lost what small shred of confidence they may have had in the College Board to do as promised.  In fact with this new timeline, students won’t have information in time to decide whether to take or re-take the January “old” SAT, as the registration deadline for this test is December 28.

And none of this was even mentioned in the December Counselor Newsletter forwarded the last week of November to school and independent counselors in every corner of the world.

With only a small reference to possibly causing some inconvenience in the email sent last week, the College Board once again shrugged off their failure to provide acceptable customer service and make good on promises.  Inconvenience in this case equates to added stress and uncertainty—far more serious consequences of a bungled rollout for the new test than suggested.

“What is the penalty for poor performance, slipshod customer service, missed delivery dates, and terrible communication about a product that has gone under a major overhaul? In the business world or open marketplace those things would result in a crash in sales, plummeting stock prices, and possibly a closing of a business,” suggested Tara Dowling, director of college counseling at Rocky Hill School in Rhode Island. “And if only the consumers at risk here weren't vulnerable high school students this might not matter.”

In the meantime, the Khan Academy has done their part and is ready to provide the kind of free personalized test prep imagined by the partnership with the College Board.  Unfortunately, it will all have to wait.

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