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to the Editor
Sinking SAT Scores demand real reforms
posted August 26, 2009
Parents and Taxpayers in
South Carolina were subject to yet-more bad news about student
achievement in their state's monolithic public school system on
Tuesday. Results of the SAT college preparation and evaluation test for
were released and South Carolinians learned that public school students
continued their steady three-year long slide in average scores.
According to data released by the College Board, the nonprofit testing
organization that administers the exam, students at South Carolina
public schools earned an average score of 1445 points, 64 points below
the national average score of 1509 points.
In all, 25,217 students in South Carolina took the SAT, up slightly
from 23,066 last year. The average scores of the 19,534 public school
students were: Critical Reading - 482; Mathematics - 496; and Writing -
467. Based on the "old" two-subject model, the public school average
was 978, and the three-subject average was 1445.
In North Carolina, the public school average SAT score was 1479 (or
1003 in the old system). That is 34 points above South Carolina public
schools average. There were 45,376 public school students in North
Carolina who took the test in 2009. In Georgia, the public school
average SAT score was 1450 (or 975 in the old system). That is 5 points
above the South Carolina public schools average. Over 47,000 public
school students in Georgia took the test in 2009 - or nearly double the
number of students in South Carolina.
The bad news comes just days after reports of a similar drop in ACT and
news of an expanding achievement gap along race and income lines at
public elementary and middle schools.
While students trapped in South Carolina's most persistently
under-performing schools received shockingly low scores (such as 1162
in Florence District Four), the scores at the so-called "best" public
schools in South Carolina still failed to rank competitively with SAT
scores earned by similarly populated public schools in other states.
Consider Anderson School District 3, where only seven students took the
test, ranked first in South Carolina, where public school students
earned an average SAT score of 1088 on the Verbal and Math portions of
the SAT test. Not only did most magnet and charter schools in North
Carolina beat out South Carolina's "best" school district, even the
traditional neighborhood public schools in Chapel Hill and Watauga did
much better. In the case of Chapel Hill, the public school students in
North Carolina beat their "best" South Carolina public school peers by
almost 100 points.
Public schools in South Carolina are projected to spend $11,242 per
student this year, while the figure in neighboring North Carolina is
close to $8,500. The Budget and Control estimates that a mere 44 cents
per dollar spent reaches into public school classrooms.
Private schools in South Carolina, where just one-in-ten students
attend school, fluctuated slightly this year, but still earned an
average score of 1535 - or 90 points above the South Carolina public
school average and 26 above the all-schools national average.
"Once again we have frustrating evidence about the need to more
student-specific instruction and parental engagement" explained Randy
Page, President of South Carolinians for Responsible Government, a
watchdog group advocating for a more parent-focused system of K-12
education. "Only when we smartly focus our efforts and resources on
students -not the system- can we begin the long journey toward the type
of educational policy and achievement students in South Carolina
South Carolinians for Responsible Government
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