The statistics are staggering. At Stuyvesant High School in New York City, a public school, in a body of 3,000 students there are seven (yes, believe it or not—SEVEN out of 3,000) African American students. Admittedly, there is a high population of Asian Americans at Stuyvesant, but certainly the number of African Americans is clearly disproportionate. Keep in mind, students are tested to get into the prestigious public school, way before they are thinking about college.
But speaking of college, the College Board announced March 4 that it is overhauling the SAT, dropping the timed essay and focusing less on vocabulary in order to level the playing field a bit for high school students from a wider range of families. According to research from the College Board and the Washington Post, the data shows that wealthier Americans tend to do better on the test. As do white and Asian Americans, and those students who had the opportunity to take the PSAT in high school before taking the SAT.
SAT scores are highly correlated with income. Students from families earning more than $200,000 a year average a combined score of 1,714, while students from families earning under $20,000 a year average a combined score of 1,326. The writing test has the widest score gap, perhaps explaining why College Board officials are dropping the essay.
What is going on here?
Once relegated and associated with college admissions (SATs, ACTs), the standardized testing extreme is now prevalent through all ages of schooling. Even kindergarten. Yes, even kindergarten.
“Of all the criticisms of the Common Core State Standards, to me the most serious is that the kindergarten standards are inappropriate and not in line with what research and experience tells us about how young children learn. In a nutshell, if a child is not reading by the end of kindergarten, they are failing,” says Andy Russell, who teaches in the Seattle Public School system. “It’s about worksheets and assessments as teachers try desperately to meet these ridiculously new expectations.”
More parents are opting out of standardized testing for their children, especially here in Seattle. Because is it truly fair? Research shows that students with the highest SAT scores are those who can afford the “prep” classes that can acclimate students with the test. Often these prep courses can run up to almost $1000.
What is also concerning is the amount of time in the classroom focusing on students passing the core curriculum standardized tests.
According to Russell, this school year in Seattle there will be a new set of standards, which, even though they were rolled out over a three-year period, still bear little resemblance to what students actually have previously learned or are even capable of learning at each particular grade and a new standardized assessment coming up this spring that teachers know next to nothing about and which (by the test creators’ own estimates) 60 percent or more of our students are expected to fail. (end)