The Common Core makes noble demands on teachers and students. But, at the end of the day, they are still demands, and it will take students and teachers time and effort to fulfill them.
One problem with tying the SAT to these new standards is that it will force students and schools to play a long game of catch-up. Most states will be gradually implementing the standards over the next few years—assuming it will only take that long and assuming that any student taking the exam attends a school that is successfully using standards. At last check, 42 states are in the process of implementing the Common Core standards — three of the original participants dropped out — but they are doing so at different rates.
The other consequence of (theoretically) basing the new SAT on what students are doing in their classrooms is that it threatens to makes success on the exam even more subject to socioeconomic background. Students at struggling schools — where teachers tend to have less experience and support and where Common Core-related textbooks can be scarce — could be at a disadvantage. After all, they haven’t had exposure to the very materials and instruction integral to performing well on the test. This could all amount to an ironic twist: For all the faults of the SAT, one of its merits, at least in theory, is that it can identify students whose formal education might be lacking but who have the mental firepower to succeed given the opportunity.