In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review June 1, 2005 / 23 Iyar, 5765

New SAT: Write Long, Badly and Prosper

By Les Perelman

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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | When the administrators of the SAT announced that their new test would include a 25-minute essay portion, writing teachers around the country were optimistic. We hoped it would be a genuine test of writing ability, and that over time it would increase the emphasis on good writing in high schools and lead to better-prepared, more-literate students being sent off to college.

Unfortunately, that no longer seems likely. Instead, the SAT essay has turned out to be a completely artificial exercise that appears to reward students for writing badly.

First, the test encourages wordiness. Longer essays consistently score higher. Shortly after the test was first administered in March, I looked at scored samples that were made public, including the set used to train graders. I discovered that I could guess an essay's prescribed score just by looking at its length — even from across a room. One verbose sample that received a perfect 6 concluded with the ridiculous sentence: "If secrecy were eradicated, many problems, such as internal division, but also possibly hate, might also be eliminated."

Just as disconcerting is the test's disregard for factual accuracy. The official guide for scorers states: "Writers may make errors in facts or information that do not affect the quality of their essays. For example, a writer may state 'The American Revolution began in 1842' or 'Anna Karenina, a play by the French author Joseph Conrad, was a very upbeat literary work.' " One of the sample papers scoring a "perfect" 6, for example, described the "firing of two shots at Fort Sumter in late 1862," even though it was in early 1861 and 4,000 shots were fired.

The truth is the whole idea behind the 25-minute essay is wrongheaded. Nowhere except on examinations such as the SAT essay does an individual have to write so quickly on an unfamiliar topic. Indeed, aside from in-class college exams, most college writing assignments involve planning, writing and rigorous revising. Moreover, in-class college exams — like most papers produced in the workplace — tend to focus on material the writer knows. Few people receive e-mails from the boss asking for a rapid response to a ludicrously broad question like, "What is your view on the idea that it takes failure to achieve success?" (one of the sample essay prompts).

The problem is exacerbated for students from bilingual backgrounds, who need to revise their writing. Joseph Conrad (who was, in fact, a native Polish speaker, not a Frenchman) spent long hours editing drafts of his novels. Although he became a master of English prose, he would have probably received a lousy score on the SAT essay.

Unfortunately, many students enter college believing that the sloppy writing that got them there is the type of writing that colleges want. College teachers often spend the first year "deprogramming" students from writing formulaic "five-paragraph essays," thinking that a first draft is a final draft, believing form is more important than content, and equating quantity with quality. The SAT essay will only encourage that kind of thinking.

The College Board itself admits that its essay portion is an unreliable measure of writing skills. That is why it counts for only 25% of the SAT's writing section; the principal component, 75% of the writing score, still consists of multiple-choice items (which the College Board's own research shows correlate highly with parental income).

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How can the current situation be addressed?

First, we must acknowledge that high-stakes college admission testing is too important to leave entirely to the private testing agencies. Colleges and universities are ready, willing and more than able to take the lead. College and high school writing teachers, along with college admission officers, should control the design, content and grading of the writing test even if its administration is left to outsiders.

Second, the test should consist of two substantial essays written over the course of a day. The National Commission on Writing has stated that one writing sample is insufficient to measure a student's writing and that students need time to plan, revise and edit.

Third, rather than having isolated individuals grade the tests on the Web, testing agencies could use the Internet to create regional grading centers where college and high school faculty would evaluate the papers cooperatively in weekend scoring sessions. This would be more reliable than solitary grading.

Among other benefits, this more comprehensive writing test would discourage coaching, because the only effective "coaching" would be to teach students how to write.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Les Perelman is a director of the undergraduate writing program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Comment by clicking here.

© 2005, Los Angeles Times Distributed by Los Angeles Times Syndicate