Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Declining SAT scores

I'm not sure what this means, or if it means anything at all.


Drop in SAT scores biggest in 31 years

By JUSTIN POPE, AP Education Writer
Tue Aug 29, 11:28 AM ET


The high school class of 2006 recorded the sharpest drop in SAT scores in 31 years, a decline that the exam's owner, the College Board, said was partly due to some students taking the newly lengthened test only once instead of twice.

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The results come two weeks after it was announced the class of 2006 had posted the biggest score increase in 20 years on the rival ACT exam. The ACT, which is also accepted by almost all colleges that require standardized tests, is generally more focused on material covered in high school classes than the SAT, which is more of a measure of general ability. But more students in traditional SAT states like Connecticut and New Jersey appear to be taking both exams to try to improve their applications to selective colleges.


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That is very curious. The ACT scores are going up and the SAT scores are going down.

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Experts say the changeover in exams probably affected how students approached the test, and thus the scores. Students in the class of 2006 had the chance to take both the old SAT exam, until midway through their junior year, and the new SAT after that. If they did well the first time out, some may have opted to stand pat with those scores. Some colleges continued to accept scores from the old test during the bridge period.

"When a new test is introduced, students usually vary their test-taking behavior in a variety of ways and this affects scores," College Board President Gaston Caperton said in a news release.


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I checked out the link to the SAT website.

Under the section entitled "Prepare for the SAT" is the following headline:

Nation Still "At Risk": Call for a New Compact Between America and Its Teachers, Starting with Immediate Salary Increases.

Paying an inadequate teacher more money is not going to improve her performance. However, paying high quality teachers a better salary might keep more of them around longer. As long as teacher contracts are not linked to individual performance, little will change.

Either way, this does not address the question of what part the student plays in this equation. Could it be that student performance is falling because students put in less effort than their predecessors?

We know that television viewing is at an all time highand reading is at an all time low. Maybe this is the problem. It is just a thought.


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3 comments:

Richard said...

There is a possibility that the SAT became slightly harder when the college board designed the newer SAT, but I think that the biggest problem is that schools do not promote development in cognitive ability. In Mathethics, people are force fed formulas and methods to do things and are never given the opportunity to think of how to do themselves. In English, grammar is rarely stressed over literature and many people do not learn the importance of precise speech, such that they say "mad" in place of "angry," "may" in place of "might," "can" in place of "may," "less" when they mean "fewer," etcetera. People do not learn that they should not use end of sentence prepositions, and the concepts of the words such "could," "would," and "should" are taught so poorly that they do not grasp it in the long term and instead attribute their meanings to the word "can," such that it becomes a mean everything word. In such an environment, people cannot think and their brains fail to develop the capacity for logical thought, or at least the capacity they would have had.

From ages 5-18, people are forced to go through the education system, even if they do not appreciate it. They are forced to attend numerous classes. They are forced into a day care system. Classes, such as music, art, recess, lunch and physical education distract them from the core curriculum, and encourage immaturity through negative and unnatural interactions with so many people that are their own age. Under such an environment, people cannot focus on the things that actually matter, as they will take the path of least resistance, focusing on everything but the core curriculum. This is not what makes an education system, rather, this is what makes a day care system, under the false premise that people are receiving an education.

The education system is a day care center and will be so long as there are teacher labor unions with the power to put their income before education. If the education system was educating people, what is it meant to accomplish? What specific change does it seek to make in people? Education can only do three things. It can teach people to think, to communicate and to specialize in a field. Art, music, lunch, recess and physical education fail to meet any of these criteria, so it is necessary to create a fourth category to describe them, day care. People develop at different rates, and these rates are so different, that it is impossible to teach them what they need to specialize until they decide to pursue a subject and it is extremely difficult to devise a way to teach them thought and communication because we want them to know it.

First, people must want an education, but under the socialized system, people are forced into it. If they were not, when people want an education, they would be truly ready to learn the basics of what they were born ignorant. These basics are simply Math and English. All they need are four years to learn them. Beyond that, the only things that can be done, would be to teach them some science and history (although, they will forget it unless they major in the fields, and an improper application of such subjects will insult those who are more gifted and discourage those who are less gifted) and reinforce math and english with subjects such as alegbra, geometry, trigonometry, precalculus/calculus, vocabulary, additional grammar, reinforcement in the grammar they already have, writing and some literature. That would be another four years, and then there would be nothing left to do but for them to go to college when they have decided what to do with their lives. Focusing on the SAT material would come naturally as such a curriculum would clearly focus on intellectual thought. The education system will never do this willingly though, because union revenues would decline and that would be a conflict of interest.

Janine Cate said...

Good point.

Henry Cate said...

Richard, you made a number of good points.

Do you have a blog?

If not, you might consider starting one.