Wednesday, August 31, 2005

SAT Scores: Oregon Losing Ground

You don't have to investigate too deeply before you realize that the headlines we always see about Oregon doing well on the SAT is not really true.

For years we were told "Oregon is #1 on the SAT." A couple years ago Washington passed us up, so we were #2. For several years they never even bothered to report that this ranking was actually only for a sub-group of states - those states with more than 50% of the students taking the test.

After we badgered the Oregonian's education reporters time and again, they finally started putting in their story that they were excluding about half the states by only ranking those with 50% of graduating seniors taking the test.

If you include all states, Oregon was 25th last year and 28th this year. But it isn't valid to even rank the states this way. Go the the College Board web site and you will see that they say:

"Media and others often rank states, districts, and schools on the basis of SAT scores despite repeated warnings that such rankings are invalid. "

But Susan Castillo and the Oregonian disregard this warning and do it anyway. Castillo's press release today says: "Oregon still ranks second...."

Here is the real news, which you won't find being reported: Since the implementation of the CIM, Oregon's performance on the SAT has gotten worse compared to the national average.

Five years ago, Oregon's combined SAT score was 1054, and the national average was 1019. Since then, the average has grown to 1028 (increase of 9 points) and Oregon's score is exactly the same - 1054.

At this rate of travel, Oregon will be below the national average in a little more than a decade. A far cry from the rhetoric that surrounded the School Reform Act, which brought us CIM/CAM.

It's time for some honesty about Oregon's SAT scores. If we are honest with ourselves, we would admit that Oregon is just about average.


Bailie said...

This is the "real story" for those who insist on the SAT ranking as having meaning. Washington average teacher salary is $3,735 per teacher, per year less than Oregon teachers (NEA 2005). This amounts to $108,315,000 difference per year (for our 29,000 teachers). If benefits were included in this calculation, it would be close to $300 million difference per year. Enough to hire 4,000 additional K-3 teachers, have full school years and complete programs. A byproduct, perhaps, could be a #1 ranking on SATs again. Or then again, maybe Oregon's very high individual K-12 compensation doesn't correlate to academic success.

Rob Kremer said...

That is interesting indeed. Great points.

gus miller said...

In the business section of the fishwrapper on the day the SAT story ran there was an article showing that incomes are considerably higher in WA than OR and increasing, while Oregon incomes are shrinking. Yet OR still spends a little more per student than WA according to the SAT story.

One plus for OR was the increase to 59% of seniors taking the SAT. On the other hand, WA has a lower dropout rate than OR.

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