SAT Scores and the Importance of Not Just Reading, but Understanding the Data and Experiment

Posted: October 4, 2013 in education
Tags: , , , ,

Allow me to wax a bit philosophical in this post after I get the jist of it down. WND posted about a week ago, “SAT Scores Continue Decline,” a story saying that based on the scores of high school seniors, around 57% are not ready for college English and Math (“maths” if you’re British) based on continually declining scores.

What’s interesting about this is that on its face it looks bad, and that America’s education system sux. I think all sides would generally agree that our schools need work, we just disagree on what needs to be done.

What’s perhaps even more interesting is a story I read maybe two weeks ago, only I can’t find it now to prove that it exists. The story was about the College Board president (I think) – the College Board being the company that owns the SAT – saying that his own test is bad for this generation and needs to be drastically changed because it no longer tests whether students are able to survive in the modern world.

For example, do students today really need to know a good antonym of “capricious”? Or even how to spell it, considering that auto-correct will fix the spelling and that any number of computer or online dictionaries will give you numerous antonyms, such as “consistent.”

Or, from my own experience taking standardized tests, I remember when we had to choose from a list of four options a word that would be found on a page of a dictionary given two guide words. Do students today even know what guide words are? How many students under the age of 18 have even opened a print dictionary?

Rather, he wants to revise the test to better reflect what students today should know. This also would make the “teach to the test” philosophy that many teachers find so annoying be a little less annoying.

With this as a context – and the fact that the SAT scores (if you read further down the article) are actually the same as those from 2012, it’s just a decline in score since the writing portion was introduced in 2006 – a decline in scores seems a little less of an ernest issue. And a little less the fault of a declining education system. Someone please tell that to WND commenters.

For example, the top-rated is from “dan690″ who wrote, This has been the goal of the Department of Education and Obama for years. Dumb down the kids and get new democrats.”

“dee76” has the second-highest and wrote about how they took their child out of public schools.

It only took the third-highest-rated commenter to invoke the removal of school prayer as the culprit:

The reason we had the best education system until the 60’s was because we knew the source of knowledge and how to use it (wisdom) – and it wasn’t evolution or immorality:

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction. Proverbs1:7

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. Proverbs 9:10

The reply, by “DocScience,” is remarkably scary that someone thinks this way in this day and age:

And there are two other reasons.

1. The end of segregation. In earlier decades, low performing black students were stuck into low performing black schools judged against low performance standards and ignored. Today, those same low performing black students are defining the new norm of a dumbed down education system. The inferior black schools didn’t disappear, the superior white schools did. Who could have guessed this outcome?

2. Women’s Lib. In earlier decades, the best a talented woman could hope for was teaching. As such, the best and the brightest of 1/2 the population became teachers. Now these stars are in business leaving many of the least talented in teaching. Again, who could have guessed that opportunities for women would destroy education?

Wow. I think that’s a good one to end this post.

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