As a high school English teacher in Florida, up to 50 percent of my last two evaluation scores were determined by student academic growth, including a sampling of my student’s SAT performances, so
declining SAT scores nationwide have caught my eye. When a colleague sent a link to Carol Burris’ recent blog post,
What the New SAT Scores Reveal About Modern School Reform, I was intrigued to read about the “revelations” the piece mentioned. Disappointingly, it seems that her piece implies that the development of Common Core is to blame for the decrease in SAT scores, although it is interesting that she avoids a direct statement of implication. However, I do not agree that the standards themselves are to blame for the dip in SAT scores—in fact, it makes sense to me to align the SAT to the standards that the majority of the country is upholding. The implementation of potentially unreliable and inadequately field-tested assessments that are inconsistent nationwide would be an arguably more realistic culprit. If teachers had more of an opportunity to focus on the standards themselves (without the stress that results from rushing to prepare students to take standardized tests), maybe they could better help students prepare for the SAT. Not to mention, students wouldn't be so sick of testing by the time they take the test that actually determines, at least in the eyes of the universities today, their college readiness. If we as a nation want our students to be capable of competing on a global scale, we need to be more careful and cautious in approaching the assessment of these standards. Otherwise, as the title to Burris’ blog post suggests, Common Core may eventually forfeit its potential and become nothing more than a “modern school reform,” destined to be replaced by another effort. Perhaps SAT alignment is a move in the right direction; perhaps it is only politically motivated. Perhaps it is both. Regardless, it is important that people understand that it is not the standards themselves that are causing the problems.
Samantha Cerchio has been teaching for three years. She is an Honors English and IB Literature teacher at Sarasota Military Academy.