Friday, September 04, 2015

SAT Scores Drop Nationally as WA State Participation Goes Up

Despite the lowest reported SAT scores nationally in 10 years, participation rates - across all groups in Washington State - continues to go up.

The steady decline in SAT scores and generally stagnant results from high schools on federal tests and other measures reflect a troubling shortcoming of education-reform efforts. The test results show that gains in reading and math in elementary grades haven’t led to broad improvement in high schools, experts say. That means several hundred thousand teenagers, especially those who grew up poor, are leaving school every year unready for college.
Why is education reform hitting a wall in high school?” asked Michael J. Petrilli, president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a think tank. “You see this in all kinds of evidence. Kids don’t make a whole lot of gains once they’re in high school. It certainly should raise an alarm.
It is difficult to pinpoint a reason for the decline in SAT scores, but educators cite a host of enduring challenges in the quest to lift high school achievement. Among them are poverty, language barriers, low levels of parental education and social ills that plague many urban neighborhoods.
I will insert here that a good school is just NOT enough to change the issues of home environment which includes those issues noted in the paragraph above.  It does not matter how many times corporate ed reformers say "a good teacher is all you need - that alone will not change the effect of those issues.
Do we give up?  No. Do we "wait" for poverty to change? No.  There has to be a concerted effort in all directions.  I believe this inability to move the needle for so many at-risk children is driving the current pre-school trend.  It may help to get to children earlier but again, it's not going to be the one thing that is a game-changer.  
This from OSPI (lots of good charts):

More Washington students than ever are enrolling in college-level courses and taking college entrance exams, according to results recently released by the College Board and ACT. Almost every reported racial and ethnic group saw increased SAT, AP, PSAT and ACT test-taking rates in 2015.

“I’m proud of our students,” said State Superintendent Randy Dorn. “Our participation rates are up, so that means more students are thinking about life after high school. At the same time, we continue to perform above the national average.”

The following participation rates were provided to the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction by the College Board (SAT, AP and PSAT) and ACT.


Anonymous said...

Average scores go down - bad.
Participation rates go up - good.

How to evaluate? Obviously requires an in depth analysis to see whether this is ultimately good news, bad news, or just a regional mixed bag where some meaningful analysis can be generated albeit limited in scope.

Single data point usage to determine success/failure - fail. If used to determine the success or failure of the national educational system it'll basically be a Rorschach test.


Anonymous said...

Well duh. This is pretty basic. If everyone is college bound, and taking college admissions tests, the levels will go down. College is now for everyone, not just the good students. Ask Bernie. Free college for all. There's even college for people with intellectual disabilities. It's all good.