Another Blow to the Sacrosanct Ranking

Nothing has been more sacrosanct to the O’Malley Administration that the alleged ranking of our state public schools as the best in the nation. In July I wrote about how the state performance on the Maryland School Assessment was an inadvertent admission that our schools were far from the best, but the recent report about state SAT performance underscores that point: 

Virginia students received their highest scores ever on the modern SAT college admission test this year, and scores also rose in the District even as national averages remained unchanged. Maryland’s scores dropped for the third straight year, according to data for the Class of 2013 released Thursday.

I’m sure that Governor O’Malley loves the fact that our neighbor to the south (who is beating us in nearly ever economic statistical category) is now also beating us in education, too.

Now, here’s what the Post article has to say about the Maryland state scores:

In Maryland, SAT scores fell by four points overall, a dip equally split between math and writing. Overall SAT scores in Maryland have fallen three years in a row, this year landing at 1483. 

Maryland officials said they took heart in an increase in student participation. They cited a 2.4 percent increase in the number of African American students taking the test and an 18.25 percent jump in Hispanic students taking it. State officials have been encouraging underrepresented minorities toward higher education. 

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“This has been a goal. We’re trying to get students whose parents haven’t gone to college to start thinking about post-secondary education,” said Bill Reinhard, a spokesman for the Maryland State Department of Education.

So if you believe that response, we as Marylanders should not focus on the fact that students are seeing a decline in overall performance, but the fact that participation has increased, particularly in minority students. Don’t get me wrong, increasing SAT scores is certainly not a bad thing in principle, even if does continue to feed the notion that all students should go to college regardless of their desire or ability to do so. However, there’s a very damning issue that is buried in this story; With more minorities participating, is this further statistical evidence that minorities are underperforming in state schools and that MSDE officials are not doing enough to raise student achievement in all sectors of the state?

What’s more troubling about the SAT score drop is it’s relationship to the drop in scores on the Maryland School Assessment test that I mentioned back in July. If you remember, State Superintendent Lillian Lowery blamed the drop in test scores on the introduction of Common Core in some school districts, with Baltimore County Superintendent Dallas Dance actually saying that the drop in test scores was a positive thing because it showed the successful implementation of the new curriculum since the test was teaching the old one. Either way, I argued at the time that this proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that students were being prepped solely to take this week’s test and not prepare them academically for college or the real world. The decline in student performance on the SAT certainly goes a long way in confirming that fact and showing that no, Maryland’s public school are not educating students in the way that the need to be educated in order to succeed.

I’m sure that Governor O’Malley has a fancy chart that tries to explain this all away, but the bottom line is the Maryland’s schools continue to fail students, parents, teachers, and taxpayers. We continue to have a school system that is not providing the education students need or the results that parents and teachers demand at a value that is easy on the taxpayer. All the while, Martin O’Malley will continue to dance around with the coveted #1 ranking that means nothing to students who are ill-prepared for the world.

This state needs to stop failing our kids. 

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