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The Sad, Sad SAT Factor: How Long Do We Accept Dismal Scores?

“Does the expanded population of test takers explain the decline in reading and writing scores?”

The simple answer is no, it does not – despite the College Board’s continual insistence to the contrary. What these SAT scores, combined with the equally dismal ACT scores, confirm is that the majority of kids in this country are not ready for college, that more of our students are not being adequately served by their schools, and that a dangerous achievement gap still persists among ethnic groups.

When looking at the total scores of reading, math, and writing combined, white students have made no progress in the last six years, but continue to score higher than their African American and Hispanic peers whose scores have been in a steady decline since 2006. Conversely, the scores of Asian students have been steadily increasing. The average combined score for white students in 2012 (1578) is almost identical to their score in 2006 (1582). African American students’ scores have declined from 1291 in 2006 to 1273 in 2012 and the scores of Hispanic students went from 1371 in 2006 to 1350 in 2012.

We need to ask ourselves, how many more years of dismal test scores are we willing to accept? How many more kids are we willing to sacrifice to a bad education on the altar of the status quo? Because what we have been doing is clearly not working. Student achievement on college entrance exams remains stagnant and we continue to let this failure fester in our education system. Not only are we not preparing our kids for college and careers, but we are jeopardizing their future and the future of their country.

So how do we turn things around? We need reforms that expand educational choices, encourage innovation, and put power in the hands of parents as demonstrated in the film Won’t Back Down. It’s going to take strong reform-minded leaders willing to stick their necks out and insist on real education reforms, who shake things up to increase student achievement that will move us forward. In other words, leaders who won’t accept lip service and platitudes as real reform from those who have a vested interested in protecting the status quo.

(Originally posted to the National Journal‘s Education Experts blog.)

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