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Exploring some hard truths

This week’s Friday Report
from the Public School Forum of North Carolina has some good stuff that’s worth your attention. First and foremost is an article that explores some of the hard realities about SAT scores. Consider the following:

The release of SAT scores this week attracted little attention. Average scores in North Carolina dropped 1 point from last year; national scores also dropped one point. While North Carolina has moved from near the bottom (48th out of 50 states in 1990) to only 10 points below average, the State remains below average in almost all categories – ethnic comparisons, income comparisons, etc. Albeit, it has made larger SAT gains than all but one other state in the union.

If one digs deeper into SAT test-taking results, however, one finds patterns that raise disturbing questions about education’s ability to pull all young people up to higher levels of achievement.

The Department of Public Instruction’s 2009 SAT Report graphically presents data that has become depressingly repetitive. When one breaks down the scores of SAT test takers, race, parental education levels and parental income in almost all cases are accurate predictors of how young people will fare on the test widely used to determine college admission.

With very few exceptions, the demographics of a school system’s population mirror the SAT scores of test takers.”

As the article, notes (and Chris Fitzsimon has written on numerous occasions) the overriding predictor of school performance is the household and neighborhood from which a child hails. Ignoring broader issues like poverty, health care, etc… is an invitation to continued struggles from poor kids in our public schools.

The newsletter also includes an outstanding letter regarding the ongoing debate over Wake County’s economic diversity program and the ways in which Wake continually bests Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s recently re-segregated schools.

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