As you may have heard, average SAT scores were down in the United States this year. The College Board explains this is mostly the result of including scores from students who take the test later in the year (during the summer after graduation) in the national average. These students (at least 50,000 more) are taking the test too late for college applications for the coming fall. It stands to reason that they’re not likely to score as high as their peers who took the test earlier in the year. They weren’t included in the tally in the past, so including them this year drove down the national average.
This is not how the Washington Post‘s Valerie Strauss sees things:
After all, we’ve have a decade of standardized test-based school reform under the No Child Left Behind law that educators warned was narrowing curriculum and turning too many classrooms into test prep factories rather than places of real learning.
According to Strauss, the nation’s average SAT score dropped because of “standardized test-driven school reform.” Let that marinate for a moment. Strauss is arguing that these test scores illustrate that test-based education policies don’t work. In her world, tests narrow our students’ minds, limit their education, and ultimately tell us nothing about what they’ve learned—EXCEPT when the test in question is the SAT.
Ms. Strauss, this is obtuse to the point of being intentional. You can’t—so long as you’re respecting basic logic—1) trash reform efforts for relying on standardized tests while simultaneously 2) using data from the SAT (any guesses on what the “T” stands for?) to make your case.
Addendum: There’s a lot more wrong with Strauss’ piece. She claims that the uptick in the number students averaged into the College Board’s figures should add as many high-performing students as low-performing students…because she ignores the details of the student population that was added into the average. There’s more, but it’s not worth your time.