TEA: More Texas Students Are Taking the SAT. Problem Is, Scores Keep Dropping.

college-board-sat-scores.jpg
A little while ago, in this item below, Mike MacNaughton posted a link to this freshly minted release from the Texas Education Agency, which leads with the good news: "Texas has experienced a huge increase in the number of college-bound minority students who take the SAT college admissions test." At the very bottom you'll find the bad news: In all Texas schools, SAT scores are down in math, reading and writing.

Same goes for all schools in the U.S.: 1,647,123 total students nationwide took the test this year, and in reading the average score was 497 -- a drop of three points from 2010's results. The average math score was 514, a one-point drop; writing was 489, a two-point drop. But those numbers are still higher than the combined averages of the 166,012 Texas students who took the SAT: Reading was at 479 (down four points), math came in at 502 (down two points), writing at 465 (down seven).

Then, there are the public school scores for Texas, which were even lower, with reading at 475 (down five points), math at 500 (down two) and writing at 461, which is down seven points from last year and way below the nationwide public school average of 483.

But Robert Scott, the state's commission of education, chooses to look at the bright side: At least more kids are taking the test and trying to get into college. "There is clearly an increase in the college-going culture in this state," he says. "Whether it's elementary schools decorated with college pennants, new high-tech science and technology programs or expanding dual enrollment and Advanced Placement courses, there is a synergy in Texas that is causing more students to consider going to college."

The TEA also notes the top-five in-state schools that received those SAT scores this year, which are, in order: the University of Texas at Austin, Texas A&M, Texas State University in San Marcos, Baylor and University of Texas at San Antonio. Hook. 'Em.

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14 comments
Citizen Kim
Citizen Kim

My son just took the SAT.  He gave me a very detailed description afterward.  The SAT is not a test of knowledge or ability.  It is a test of speed.  They might as well just take the kids out to the football practice field and score based on their time in the 40.

I understand that you cannot let a test drag on for two days.  But it appears their is not sufficient time to even read the questions carefully.

Diane Birdwell
Diane Birdwell

1. They tell kids, for years now, with the TAKS that they have ALL DAY LONG to take a test. In fact, some teachers tell the kids--wait for it--to take a NAP before tackling the essay portion of the test.

2. Teachers --probably starting in middle school-- tell the kids to circle all the answers in the test booklet, THEN darken the circles on the test form. Great for TAKS, horrible for the SAT. I have had students break down and cry --one even threw up-- when they did the entire section, but then only BUBBLED three answers, because "time was up."  They could not literally coordinate their hand and mind to answer by bubbling, then go on and do the next, and next...

3. Too often, test questions on ACP's pr TAKS  MATCH exactly what they have been taught in clas. Too many kids cannot APPLY what they have learned to new scenarios.

4. They are told to SLOWLY organize their thoughts, then make a rough draft, then rewrite the essay for TAKS. SAT???? You have 25 minutes--total to read the prompt, write your essay and put your pencil down. Period.

5. They are told for 11 years to "just pass." Then suddenly, they are supposed to make a HUGHER score? Nope, not gonna happen.

6. No college prepping at all. PSAT is a joke. The 10th graders are told NOTHING in prep for it, and then they are so discouraged to see the reuslts IF someone goes over it with them. Often, they are just handed their scores by a runner, and nobody explains the sheet to them.

7. It is the sudden increase in non-qualified to graduate from college freshmen thatare causing the problems at A&M and Texas systems. That is why Perry is stickinghis nose in. Too many kids that should not have gone to college now do, then they quit, throwing a wrench in the university;s stats. Hell, they are ADULTS. It is not the university's job to babysit them.

Michael MacNaughton
Michael MacNaughton

Across the nation, the more kids that take the test then the lower the scores.  This isn't exactly good news. I am trying to suss out where Texas would rank without the variable of # of testers and I keep getting 47th or 48th ranking but I don't think that is correct.Visualize the data here: http://www-958.ibm.com/softwar...

mm
mm

For the love of Robert Scott, why is it a good thing that kids who have no business going to college are considering going to college?  College isn't for everyone, nor should it be.  Yet schools are judged by the number of college prep courses they teach, and continue to push hard for everyone to go.  My stepson's senior English class uses class time for the first six weeks to help kids write their college essays, (I guess) assuming that 100% of the kids are planning to go to college.  It's crazy.  In the words of Judge Smails, the world needs ditch-diggers, too.

LaceyB
LaceyB

A large part of the reason that the amount of students taking it has increased is because they are taking it during schooltime now. It is mandatory, and they give free prep classes for those so inclined. In addition, they have added a writing portion to the exam, which was never part of the one I took (thank God).I tutor for the SAT. My scores were nothing special, but still decent enough for UT coming from out of state.But, know that numbers rising is no mistake in DISD, anyway. You have to take that test. Or they will hunt you down for a re-take.

LaceyB
LaceyB

remember to tell your son to reference literature or "the old stock market crash" or historical events in his essay. Princeton Review's examples all cite that stuff, rather than "I think...I feel". It's the business of getting into college.That's what HS was for me. Which is why I'm a wild card now, rather than then. It's way more fun when you're legal.

MattL1
MattL1

How do you know whether or not you should go to college if you don't try?  The world needs ditch diggers, but shouldn't we figure out whether someone is capable of more before putting a shovel into his or her hand?

Diane Birdwell
Diane Birdwell

The SAT's are not given during school time .They are given on Saturdays. I know, because I work those gigs.

DISD Teacher
DISD Teacher

I agree with what you say.

I disagree with DISD's manic, pathetic attempt to prove we're helping kids become "college ready".

Forcing us to decorate our doors with college themes isn't helping kids.Hanging college pennants everywhere isn't helping kids.Taking grueling to-Austin-and-back-in-one-day field trips isn't helping kids.

We are never, ever allowed to suggest to kids that being a mechanic, a plumber, an electrician, etc. is ALSO a career choice.

We tell them "It's this unbelievably expensive 4-year college route or it's nothing."

I honestly suspect that DISD gets some kind of kickback from someone for every kid that applies to a TX university.  Think about it:  pushing expensive 4-yr colleges financially benefits the colleges (application fees), the SAT company (all those testing fees), and the DISD employees involved with all the tracking of these tests stay employed.

Dragging every kid in 6th grade off to UT wastes teaching time and money.It does not actually prepare a child to compete at UT.

Michael MacNaughton
Michael MacNaughton

I agree - voc-tech schools are an option for some.  To your second point, you misunderstand - I am talking about kids getting non-professional starter jobs not under-employed older adults seeking any work in a bad economy.  Employment statistics bear this out -  for non-professional "starter" jobs employers will select a kid with some college vs one with none.  Professional jobs are another category and another story entirely...in that case, the employer today may indeed want to avoid the "overqualified" even if they will work for less pay because of the reason you stated above.  But that is not the conversation.  I know plenty of my peer parents who are thrilled that their highly educated kids have a retail job - but it's management starter jobs for the most part for those kids.

Kim T
Kim T

Technical and Vocational school is a much better option for many that will never graduate from the larger Texas University systems.  We need plumbers and electricians and air conditioner repairmen, etc.  Many make a very good living in those career choices.

I disagree regarding the burger flipping jobs.  There are many unemployed, educated and experienced people trying to land a position just for some income, yet they are not being hired.  The businesses believe they are over qualified and will leave as soon as a better opportunity comes along.

Michael MacNaughton
Michael MacNaughton

I agree, DISD has been about jobs for adults and contracts for their friends.The Atlantic's Don Peck, in his book, "Pinched: How the Great Recssion Has Narrowed Our Futures and What We Can Do About It", wrote that in March of this year (2011) the unemployment rate was 12% for folks with only a high-school diploma;  4.5% for those with a college degree; and 2% for folks with a professional degree.Trades and craftspeople do well when the economy is healthy but there aren't too many happy construction workers today.  College also gives social, intellectual and practical experience for young adults trying to make their way in the world. Street-smarts only goes so far. And that college experience makes more responsible adults when it comes to money management and purchasing decisions. For those dwindling hamburger-flipper jobs - who will be hired first - the person with no degree, the person with a GED or the person with a community college degree or experience? As an employer we want the most educated workforce we can find, even in jobs that may not "require" a degree.

DISD Teacher
DISD Teacher

Believe me, we are watching those kids.  I am constantly annoying the counselor by moving kids to advanced classes mid-year and other teachers do, too.  If they are strong students, they WILL be noticed and pushed ahead.

I just hate that we do exactly what you wrote:  We make the kids who have an interest in mechanics or any other non-college route feel like shit.  We shove them into classes they loathe and push them to take even MORE tests (SAT, ACT, Readistep...)  We never give them the vocational classes that interest them and are truly feasible AND GOOD choices for them.

Forcing kids to take AP classes financially benefits the AP-selling College Board.  Forcing kids--or paying them--to take SAT tests financially benefits those same people.

Don't be fooled:  DISD is not actually preparing kids for college.

MattL1
MattL1

Don't forget, it's not just about the application fees with colleges. The more kids that apply, and are rejected, the more selective the school appears. That's a big deal in the college rankings.

The kids who can and should go to college should be able to do so, but the kids who don't shouldn't be made to feel like shit because of it.

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