Among my least favorite things that come with the fall season are pumpkin spice everything, the college ranking freak out, and the data misinterpretation that stems from the release of the yearly state SAT scores. Each year after the College Board releases data on the average scores you get a new round of newspaper articles and 6 o’clock news reports on whether that state’s (or district’s) scores have fallen or risen. But what is consistently left out in the rush to report is any attempt at providing relevance and meaning to the numbers. Let’s check out some of this year’s journalistic gems: Continue reading The Sky is Falling!
One of the more interesting debates of the past 30 years has been the efficacy test prep programs. In one corner you have College Board (CB) citing a seemingly vast number of studies that support the idea that test prep is at best minimally effective. Many of us have likely heard or read College Board reports that suggest that SAT scores are near immutable and that from one test to the next scores will only change by negligible amounts. In the other corner you have a billion dollar test prep industry making score claims that fly in the face of all information given by College Board. Additionally, many of us also have friends (or have friends who have friends) whose children attended prep classes and improved by 200 or 300 points.
Reading the papers and following the blogs, one is led to believe that the only choice families and schools have is whether to believe the “evil test creator” who seemingly exists to torture kids with 4-hour long tests or the “greedy test prep companies” who are bilking families out of billions of dollars by making them pay for prep that doesn’t work. Faced with this conflicting information one could easily be confused about who’s right, what the real story is, and what to do to help your child or student. How do parents, educators, administrators or students sort through the noise and determine how to put their child in a position to succeed on these tests (and more importantly get into college). Let’s explore the factors that lead to the disagreement and shed some light on the issue.