Monday Morning Digest: Keeping Score

It’s Monday, the start of a whole new week!

And it’s SAT season again — the time of year when countless bright-eyed juniors and panicky seniors first take the test that will determine the rest of their lives be a significant piece of their college applications.  Scores are down: reading and writing both fell a point each, while math held steady…and maybe that’s cool?  A few folks had something to say about the College Board’s recent press release on 2012’s college-bound seniors (pdf).  If you’ve got something to say, share your thoughts below!

SAT Scores Fall Nationwide: A Harbinger of U.S. Economic Decline
With SAT scores a rough predictor of college success, AOL’s DailyFinance reports that the decline “spells bad news” for the U.S. world leadership in education.  Standardized test scores are on the rise in China and elsewhere.

SAT Scores Are Down Again. Let’s Celebrate.
Bloomberg remarks upon a slightly scarier statistic: the College Board’s finding that 43% of high school seniors are actually ready for college.  And then they cite cause to celebrate: “more students, particularly minorities,” are taking the SAT; many students do not have a parent who went to college and many speak English as a second language.  The drop in scores might, in fact, be and indication of widening college opportunities for those previously excluded from the higher education.

SAT Scores Fall as Most Test Takers Miss College Benchmark
U.S. News and World Report dives in to illuminate that 43% statistic; it’s the number of students who achieved a 1550 (out of 2400) combined score on math, reading, and writing.  A 1550 is tied to a 65% probability of achieving a B-average (2.67 GPA) in a student’s first year at university.  It seems an arcane leap from that metric to the conclusion that 57% of students just aren’t ready for college, but you have to put a benchmark somewhere, right? And at least we’re not moving the goalposts.

Student Change, Program Change: Why the SAT Scores Kept Falling
These results appear to continue earlier finding by the College Board’s own research.  According to the abstract for this 1985 report by the College Board, while “the importance of pervasive societal influences on student learning is not in dispute,” lower high-school dropout rates, a greater interest in attending college, and consequently increased numbers taking the exam leads to a “heterogeneity” of the test taking population that serves as a “unifying explanatory variable” for declines in the 1960s and 1970s.

Falling SAT Score, Widening Achievement Gap
Don’t be fooled: the achievement gap is growing, the Atlantic reports (and quotes a rep from Fair Test: the whole demographics thing? A “red herring”).