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Hiding Common Core’s Damage: New SAT Won’t Allow Comparison To Prior Years’ Scores

SAT scores this year hit the lowest level in 40 years, even though governments across the U.S. spent hundreds of billions of dollars on education.

However, according to a former Bush administration education advisor, when the new SAT is rolled out next year, the College Board’s changes to the college admissions test will not allow scores from the new version to be compared to those from the past.

This year’s high school students’ SAT scores fell once again, to the lowest level in 40 years. As Breitbart News reported:

A record 1.7 million graduating seniors took the SAT test last year. With a highest possible score this year of 800 on each SAT section, according to the College Board, students scored a worst since 1999 math score of 511, worst since 1972 reading score of 495, and worst writing score since the section was added in 2005.

But Ze’ev Wurman, former senior policy adviser with the U.S. Department of Education under President George W. Bush, tells Breitbart News these disappointing results are still on the old SAT college admissions test.

“Consequently, they represent a trend that does not speak well of the frantic implementation of Common Core that has been taking place around the nation in recent years,” he says.

“Next year the College Board will roll out a major change in the SAT that will make comparisons with past results impossible, and allow Common Core proponents to argue ‘these are different and better tests, so don’t pay attention to past results,'” Wurman states. “We are lucky that this year’s SAT has not changed yet, so the decline is clearly visible and cannot be hidden or denied.”

The College Board president is David Coleman, the so-called “architect” of the Common Core standards.

Wurman reflects on a warning given in 1993 by Zalman Usiskin, one of the founders of reform math:

Let us drop this overstated rhetoric about all the old tests being bad. Those tests were used because they were quite effective in fitting a particular mathematical model of performance – a single number that has some value to predict future performance. Until it can be shown that the alternate assessment techniques do a better job of prediction, let us not knock what is there. The mathematics education community has forgotten that it is poor performance on the old tests that rallied the public behind our desire to change. We cannot pick up the banner but then say the test are no measure of performance. We cannot have it both ways.

“Unfortunately, the first thing reformers do these days is to change the test to obscure the track record,” Wurman asserts.

“Hence the new Common Core tests, hence the ‘re-adjusted’ PSAT and SAT,” he adds. “And more to come, all under the guise of ‘we need to better measure what students know.’ In reality, it is like shooting an arrow and then painting a target around it.”

Wurman has been studying a similar situation regarding the Common Core-aligned statewide tests in California for grades K-12. He and colleague Bill Evers, a research fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution and a former U.S. assistant secretary of education, wrote in an op-ed last week at The Sacramento Bee that the California Department of Education “has been acting in a way that would have made the Soviet government proud.”

The two former members of the California State Academic Standards Commission continued:

The department has maintained a database of the results on the statewide K-12 standardized tests since their inception in 1998. This database allowed parents and reporters to easily see detailed test results from any school and grade level in the state and compare them with any other school or school district. That helped parents to evaluate the quality of their child’s school, helped set district priorities and helped evaluate trends at schools and districts over time. The easy availability of this data was an important part of public school accountability.

Yet state bureaucrats have a problem. Students across the state took the new Common Core test earlier this year, and insiders are saying that the results are dismal. So first, the bureaucrats delayed the publication of the results from mid-August (as called for in state law) to Sept. 9.

Then until an about-face last week, they blocked the public from being able to compare the last 15 years of test results with the current Common Core results, obscuring the new low level of performance.

Wurman and Evers describe the situation of California students’ test scores in history and science from several years available for comparison on the state’s website, but not so for math or English – the two areas now covered by the Common Core standards.

Fortunately, as the colleagues note, media inquiries about transparency led to the math and English test data being restored to the state’s website.

The California Department of Education’s behavior, they add, “is all too similar to that of authoritarian governments that excel in hiding information from their people.”

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