So, the American high school class of 2012 has set a new standard, and I don’t think it is one to be particularly proud of; they have lowered the bar of academic excellence to a forty year low. That is not a typo; I said “lowered.” The class of 2012 broke through the glass floor, sort to speak, set by last year’s graduating class, in the Verbal (Reading) section of the SAT; with an average score of 496.
It doesn’t just stop there though, because the trend in scores is decidedly down, and has been plunging ever lower since 1972 when the average score was 530.
There are some who defend this score, and I guess by default the trend too, by stating that each year there are more and more students taking the SAT’s, and with the increase in students taking the test it also means that there are a higher number of minorities, and non-native English speakers. While statistically speaking this statement may be true, it really kind of misses the point. So we should forget the apparent failure of the school system in preparing ALL (regardless of their ethnicity or national origin) students academically. To me the defenders throwing out the minorities and immigrant card is a cop out.
The hits don’t just stop with a new low in the Verbal section; a new low was set in the writing section too, with the average score being 488. So, while past performance is not indicative of future results, it is hard not to try and extrapolate where we as a country might be heading based on the downward trend in test scores, and I believe Mike Judge made a movie about it called “Idiocracy.”
One other thing that I think is interesting about this downward trend in average test scores on such fundamental things like reading and writing, and that is that the Federal Department of Education was established on October 17, 1979. One should expect that with government monies being thrown at it (education) that test scores should be rising, and yet they are falling . . . hmm.
The illiterate of the future will not be the person who cannot read. It will be the person who does not know how to learn. (Alvin Toffler)