The group that makes the SAT pinpointed the 2 most important skills for students to learn for future success

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  • Leaders from the College Board - the nonprofit that runs the SAT exam - said the ability to master computer science and the US Constitution were the two most important skills for students to prepare for future success.
  • The nonprofit has revamped the SAT and its Advanced Placement courses to reflect the importance of those two skills, New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman wrote.
  • The two skills can prepare students for "nearly every job" and guide their lives as productive citizens, leaders from the College Board said.

Young people learn countless skills in school, but apparently, there are two that are considered most important for future success.

New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman wrote on Wednesday that the leaders of the College Board, the nonprofit organization that runs the SAT exam, value the ability to master computer science and the US Constitution more than any other skills.

Friedman said he spoke to two acquaintances at the College Board, who explained their reasoning. Mastering computing skills like basic coding makes students "more prepared for nearly every job" in the modern world, they said, while the Constitution "gives shape to America and defines our essential liberties" and is "the indispensable guide to our lives as productive citizens."

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Now, the nonprofit is tailoring the SAT and its Advanced Placement classes around promoting those two skills. For example, since 2014, the SAT has included at least one reading comprehension passage from founding US documents, like the Constitution, or other important texts relating to democracy.

"That said to students and teachers something the SAT had never dared say before: Some content is disproportionately more powerful and important, and if you prepare for it you will be rewarded on the SAT," Friedman wrote.

Additionally, AP government courses are now placing more emphasis on founding documents and Supreme Court cases, he said.

"Understanding how government works is the essence of power," Stefanie Sanford, the College Board's chief of global policy, told Friedman. "To be a strong citizen, you need to know how the structures of our government work and how to operate within them."

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Meanwhile, the board is also changing its angle on computer science. While the old AP Computer Science course focused on coding and programming, the board now pitches its new Computer Science Principles course as a gateway for students to build apps in a variety of industries like music, business, and art.

According to College Board statistics, about 44,000 students took the Computer Science Principles class in 2017, the first year it was offered. Last year, that number jumped to 72,000.

Major tech companies like Apple, Facebook, and Amazon have all endorsed the new course in hopes it will draw a broader and more diverse group of students into computing. The original coding-focused computer science program - now called Computer Science A - attracted 65,000 students last year.

Overall, about 2.8 million students took a total of 5 million AP exams last year, and about 2.1 million students took the SAT.

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