Student scores on the SAT have slipped to the lowest level in 10 years, according to new statistics from the College Board, again raising questions about education-reform efforts meant to improve student performance in high schools.
Just under 1.7 million students took the test this year, more than ever before. Only 41.9 percent of them reached the “SAT Benchmark” score of 1550, which indicates whether an individual is prepared for college or a career. Based on the SAT’s measure, more than 1 million students are not ready for college or for work.
The average score for high-schoolers in the class of 2015 was 1490 out of a possible 2400, down 7 points from last year. The three sections of the test — reading, writing, and math — all saw declines of at least two points.
As has been the pattern for years, certain demographic groups performed better than others. Whites and Asians, on average, received higher scores than blacks and Latinos. Students from higher-earning families received higher scores than those from families with lower income. But scores among all demographic groups except for Asians went down.
The low scores are an indication that improved testing scores for elementary school students aren’t translating to gains by high-schoolers. The stark contrast in scores among racial and ethnic groups may also be a sign of systemic problems that remain a barrier to educational success. Since 2006, the scores among white students have fallen six points, pulling the average down to 1,576. The average scores for black students have dropped 14 points to 1,277.
The College Board plans to introduce a new SAT exam next year. Changes will include more of a focus on math, fewer questions on vocabulary words and an elimination of the penalty for guessing. The idea, the College Board has said, is to make the test more about what students learn in high school and the skills that college will require.
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The White House on Friday unveiled plans for a new effort to ramp up testing for Covid-19, which experts say is an essential part of limiting the spread of the virus. This chart from Vox gives a sense of just how far the U.S. has to go to catch up to other countries that are dealing with the pandemic, including South Korea, the leading virus screener with 3,692 tests per million people. The U.S., by comparison, has done about 23 tests per million people as of March 12.
The Air Force has scrapped a planned upgrade of its B-2 stealth bomber fleet — even after spending $2 billion on the effort — because defense contractor Northrup Grumman didn’t have the necessary software expertise to complete the project on time and on budget, Bloomberg’s Anthony Capaccio reports, citing the Pentagon’s chief weapons buyer.
Ellen Lord, the undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, told reporters that the nearly $2 billion that had already been spent on the program wasn’t wasted because “we are still going to get upgraded electronic displays.”
Bernie Sanders wants to eliminate $1.6 trillion in student debt, to be paid for by a tax on financial transactions, but doing so won’t be easy, says Josh Mitchell of The Wall Street Journal.
The main problem for Sanders is that most Americans don’t support the plan, with 57% of respondents in a poll last fall saying they oppose the idea of canceling all student debt. And the politics are particularly thorny for Sanders as he prepares for a likely general election run, Mitchell says: “Among the strongest opponents are groups Democrats hope to peel away from President Trump: Rust Belt voters, independents, whites, men and voters in rural areas.”
That’s how much Michael Bloomberg is spending per day in his pursuit of the Democratic presidential nomination, according to new monthly filings with the Federal Election Commission. “In January alone, Bloomberg dropped more than $220 million on his free-spending presidential campaign,” The Hill says. “That breaks down to about $7.1 million a day, $300,000 an hour or $5,000 per minute.”