Friday, September 4, 2015

SAT Scores Expose the Flaw in Education Reformers View of Schools

For those paying attention, the latest news on nationwide SAT scores came out this week, and the news was unstartling. Scores are pretty much flat, or dropping a bit, and the reality is that all efforts aimed at improving test scores for high school students fall dismally short - as dismal as some of the scores themselves. Fordham's Michael Petrilli offers some interesting observations about the obvious "age gap" for school achievement:

What makes this so disappointing is that NAEP shows respectable gains for younger students, especially in fourth grade and particularly in math. Yet these early gains seem to evaporate as kids get older.

And, the problem is, of course, the same across the country. We can make gains in lower grade levels among some specifically targeted populations. But that success will dissipate come ninth grade. And the focus on standardized tests as a measure of achievement is certainly suspect.

Ultimately, the solution is this:  Reformers need to re-think testing & test prep as the key to equitable education. Scores tail off in high schools because it's a one-size-fits-all BS/BA-focused system that emphasizes and rewards only academic, standardized-test based skills. Offer multiple pathways to adulthood, including graduation to trade schools at age sixteen, and that will be a step toward the schools we want and need.

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