On the SAT college entrance exam, average scores fell for the class of 2009. The average fell by one point from last year's critical reading and writing sections, while math remained the same. Although one point may not seem like that big of a deal, it is.  When American students are only getting between 495 and 505 as an average out of 800 on each section, something's got to give.  

Now think about this slowly.  If you have a score of 500 divided by 800 total, what is the result? Times up! It's 62%, which means students are barely passing.  Sorry, I just wanted to make sure that you were following, since, by the looks of it, students need to go back to remedial math, writing, and reading.  

There were about 1.5 million students that took the SAT this year, and they received even lower scores than last year’s class of 2008. That means some students may have done really well, but most did poorly.  Now, instead of parents and colleges congratulating students for their high grades, they will have to settle by giving prizes and slots to "American Idiots."  In order to accommodate this difference, the "C" average on the bell curve will need to be adjusted to a "D".

These results show that students are not ready for college, and public education is failing.  Since the government can't seem to fix this problem, maybe they should make another grade that serves as a prep year for college. Oh wait, that's what the previous 12 years are supposed to do. Okay, strike that- it was a bad idea. 

Here's another idea: instead of trying to raise the standards, they could just lower them and make the test easier. Maybe then students could show how smart they are by getting questions correct, although the government would have to be careful because the knowledge of these students is limited and that would be exceptionally embarrassing if they made the test easier to show students were ready for college, and they ended up with worse results. 

The whole purpose behind the SAT is to show that high school graduates are ready for college.    On the other hand, we don't want the government in charge of anything else. They can't seem to manage the U.S. Postal Service, public education, or Social Security.  At any rate, students are not prepared for the basic skills that are required in order to be ready for college.

Many students, despite the fact that they do poorly on this test, go to college anyways. Many work hard despite the shortfall and succeed in earning a college degree. In this case, the American Dream does exist. On the other hand, many end up dropping out of school because of personal, financial, social, and academic problems. Or many even say that they don't fit in and they feel like a little fish in a big pond. Get over it, that's how life is. You can't always be the center of attention, plus that's not why you went to  anyway.  It was to learn.

Kids in Asia go to learn and to better their economic situation. That is also why most Americans go. Except there is one difference: Asian countries keep squashing us when it comes to education and the amount of college graduates. Many Americans lack the skills and drive that are involved with earning a degree. They would rather go down to the local bar, get wasted, and pick up on the opposite sex than finish their midterm project.

Despite all of the negative, but truthful, things that have surfaced in this blog, Americans are very intelligent and hardworking. They just aren't motivated academically, like many Asians are.  So, needless to say, President Obama's goal of having the most college graduates out of the top developed countries is nearly impossible. 
Hopefully, President Obama has a trick up his sleeve because many things need to change if America is going to keep up in the global economy.  The U.S. needs massive numbers of educated and qualified workers.  College degrees not only help you in your personal life, but they also help the country.

2 comments on “Down Down Down, SAT Scores Fall

  • You may want to join our students in going back to the remedial courses you’re recommending. For starters, you neglect to mention how SATs are scored, a piece of information pivotal to your argument. If a student doesn’t answer a question, they get 0 points for it. However, if they answer a question and get it wrong, they are docked 0.25 to 0.5 points for the wrong answer.

    So let’s assume a test that is 800 questions long and that a test taker answers all 800 questions. To score a 500, they have to get 240 wrong (getting 660 correct). Through the standard way of calculating a grade, which I believe you erroneously applied to the SATs, this would give them a square 70%. And, as I stated, this would be a little better still because some questions are penalized even more for wrong answers. Not great, but certainly better than the gloomy picture you painted of the ‘average’ student barely getting a D on the test.

    Now, of course, you have to realize that test takers do not always answer every question. The SATs are designed to be hard, so often a student will not have enough time to answer every question. Now any wrong answers due to accidental mistakes will hurt them even more.

    Even more importantly, though, you have to realize that this is not a test that every taker is meant to do well on. It is designed to be tough. There are questions that are purposefully inserted because they are hard or tricky (there are also questions that are accidentally so). If students were regularly scoring in the 600s to 700s, that probably wouldn’t be an indication that our students are really smart, but rather that the test is too easy.

    Next you need to consider what, statistically, a dip in scores from one year to the next means: almost nothing. And when you’re talking about a single point, that’s really ambiguous. The test varies in difficulty from year to year. Some years it’s fairly brutal, either due to a higher pool of difficult questions or perhaps due to some poorly worded questions (it’s happened). It is not unreasonable to attribute a drop in this year’s score compared to last year’s due to something along those lines. So what you are looking for is a trend of downward momentum over many years, but in fact this is not the case either (http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0883611.html).

    I would be appalled at the “academics” applied to this topic (especially in a blog supposedly about education), but this really wasn’t about education to begin with. It was a potshot at the government and how education is bad because of it, according to the author (as paragraphs four through six betray). One thing that was not mentioned is that the “Asian countries [that] keep squashing us” in education have systems that are also under government control, probably even more so.

    In short, the state of education is a complicated topic and to attribute its shortcomings so heavily to the government is to fail to understand the nuances of the problem and its sundry causes.

    For example, I believe the US is the only western country that is actually having a serious debate over the inclusion of intelligent design in the science curriculum. This is troubling as it shows confusion in the population over what science is and what science is not.

    We should also consider the emphasis we place on individuality and freedom, which will produce individuals naturally disinclined to submit to the system (especially when compared against most Asian nations).

  • Look the fact is that American’s throughout the world have a reputation for being “dumb.” I have heard this in different countries that I have gone too. American students need to be learning more. The fact is that we have a very high drop out rate and students that never go onto earn a degree.

    Students in school need more resources and support. I recognize teachers, and the government can’t do everything but it’s a start. They need to raise the expectations and the resources that students need in order to receive a quality education.

    Oh and as for the SAT no one can argue that there is a lot of room for improvement. Granted these questions are difficult, but the fact that students even get points for writing their name and they still average a “C” is pretty disturbing. Oh and FYI the statistics you sent for the SAT only go through 2005. The SAT scores I was referring to as noted on http://www.msnbc.com show that the scores did increase in the late 1990s through 2004. However, since 2004 they have been decreasing.

    And I want to make sure that you understand one more time I really respect teachers and all the hard work they do. I just think that the government and even parents need to provide more resources and raise the standards. No one can argue that American Public Education is on the downhill and there is a lot of room for improvement.

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