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NH DOE Commissioner: SAT Column Probably A Poor Choice


A 2014 column by VT Sen. Bernie Sanders was included in the 2019 SAT.

CONCORD, NH – During the 2019, students taking the SAT test were requested to write an essay featuring a passage from a column by a current presidential candidate, unbeknownst to the New Hampshire Department of Education. The opinion piece – “There’s No Need to End Saturday Mail Delivery” – was authored by U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-VT, and published in the Wall Street Journal on March 4, 2014. As part of the essay section of the SAT, students were given a section of a topical column to analyze and are required to read it, explain how the author builds an argument to persuade an audience, and support their explanation with evidence from the section.

Students are not asked to agree or disagree with the position taken in the section or asked to write about their personal experience.

In New Hampshire, about 13,000 students took the SAT. The written test was given on March 27, and the digital test was administered through April 9. The NH DOE found out about the column section from a concerned parent on April 10.

According to the College Board, SATs are developed three years in advance and the final test is pre-tested a year before going live. In other words, the column was first considered for the current test a year before Sen. Sanders’ first campaign for president and pre-tested a year before his announcement for the 2020 election. According to the College Board, recent SATs have included passages written by President Ronald Reagan, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-TX, and U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa, R-CA.

“The column in question was probably a poor choice, in hindsight,” said Frank Edelblut, the commissioner of the New Hampshire Department of Education. “However, it doesn’t affect the ability of students to be able to read and process the concept of the piece and whether or not the author made a persuadable argument – which is the purpose of the essay in the first place.”

The NH DOE is working with the College Board on this issue to ensure that there aren’t any concerns from Granite State parents in the future.


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