"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

New SATs Show Education Suicide Is Working

The new SATs are out with some predictable outcomes for a decade dedicated to narrowing the curriculum and teaching to tests and draining any care and joy from the classrooms, yet the "bold reformers" like charterite Jeanne Allen are calling for more of the same bullshit: "we must redouble our efforts to reform an education system that continues to spend more only to receive less in return."

A bit of different take from Fairtest yesterday (my bolds):
SAT college admissions scores released today show that “Test-and-punish school ‘reform’ policies are leaving more children further behind, even when measured by other standardized exams,” according to Bob Schaeffer, Public Education Director of FairTest, the National Center for Fair & Open Testing. Schaeffer noted, “The data contradict the claim that more high-takes testing improves educational quality and equity.”

A chart prepared by FairTest shows overall SAT averages declined since the “No Child Left Behind” (NCLB) federal testing mandates went into effect. At the same time, gaps between Whites and Asians, on the one hand, and historically disadvantaged minority groups, particularly African-Americans and Hispanics, grew larger. ACT scores, made public last month, demonstrated comparable patterns. Scores from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) also indicate that educational progress has slowed in the NCLB era. Under NCLB, every public school student must be tested annually in grades three through eight and at least once in high school in both reading and math.

“Proponents of NCLB and similar state-level testing programs promised that overall achievement would improve while score gaps would narrow,” Schaeffer continued. “Precisely the opposite has taken place. Policymakers need to embrace very different policies if they are committed to real education reform.”

Schaeffer added, “Fortunately, more and more colleges have recognized the folly of fixating on the narrow, often biased, information provided by standardized tests and moved toward test-optional admissions.” According to a free web database maintained by FairTest (http:www.fairtest.org/university/optional), more than 840 accredited, bachelor-degree granting institutions will make admissions decisions about all or many applicants without regard to SAT or ACT scores.


with score changes from 2006*                                    
ALL TEST-TAKERS   501 (- 2)  516 (- 2)  492 (-  5)  1509 (-  9)
 Female  498(-4)  500(-2)  498(-4) 1498(-10)
 Male  503(-2)  534(-2)  486(-5) 1523(-9)
 Asian, Asian Amer. or Pac. Islander  519 (+9)  591 (+13)  526 (+14)  1623 (+36)
 White  528 (+1)  536 (    0)  516 ( -  3)  1580 (-   2)
 African American or Black  429 (- 5)  428 (-   1)  420 (-   8)  1277 (- 14)
 Amer. Indian or Alaskan Native  485 (- 2)  492 (-   2)  467 (-   7)  1444 (- 11)
 Mexican or Mexican American  454 (  0)  467 ( + 2)  448 (-   4)  1369 (-   2)
 Puerto Rican  454 (- 5)  452 (-   4)  443 (-   5)  1349 (- 14)
 Other Hispanic or Latino  454 (- 4)  462 (-   1)  447 ( -  3)  1363 (-   8)

* The “No Child Left Behind” requirement to test every child annually in grades three through eight and at least once in high school went into effect in the 2005-2006 academic year. High school graduates in the class of 2006 were the first to take the SAT “Writing” Test.

calculated by FairTest from: College Board, College-Bound Seniors 2010: Total Group Profile Report and College-Bound Seniors 2006: Total Group Profile Report

Below is one of the charts from a beautiful analysis done by the NYTimes with last year' SAT scores.  It looks at the relationship of family income and scores, and what do you know--the positive correlation "for each test average/income range chart is about 0.95."  That's as close to a direct one to one as you are likely to find anywhere.  Remember: the SAT is objective and represents the essence of American meritocracy.

Here are all three test sections next to each other (zoomed in on the vertical axis, so you can see the variation among income groups a little more clearly):
SAT scores by income classSource: College Board
A few observations:
  • There’s a very strong positive correlation between income and test scores. (For the math geeks out there, the R2 for each test average/income range chart is about 0.95.)
  • On every test section, moving up an income category was associated with an average score boost of over 12 points.
  • Moving from the second-highest income group and the highest income group seemed to show the biggest score boost. However, keep in mind the top income category is uncapped, so it includes a much broader spectrum of families by wealth.

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