Domestic, High school / Secondary 2, Open Source Education, Opinion, Required, Students - Written by on Thursday, October 6, 2011 3:00 - 0 Comments

Guest Column from Hansoo Lee of Magoosh.com: SAT Scores are Falling – Now What?

by KJGarbutt via Flickr under Creative Commons

By Hansoo Lee

Recently, the College Board announced that mean SAT scores are declining.

The SAT is the nation’s preeminent scholastic exam and this recent result is a symptom of a larger problem: too few scalable, affordable, high quality solutions to get high school students college ready.

Race Is Not the Problem

There have been a number of studies claiming that the SAT is a racially biased exam. The latest study maintains that the SAT has a bias against African Americans – and only this minority group, not against Hispanics or Asians.

While questions that favored Caucasian students may have appeared on the SAT a decade ago, the SAT has changed significantly and framing the problem primarily as a race issue distracts us from finding an effective solution to the greater problem of college readiness.

The Real Problem: Access to High Quality Educational Material and Support.

The real story today is the disparity in performance between low and high income students.

A higher family income level allows students to have more access to high quality educational material and support. This is not a groundbreaking conclusion. Yet, framing the problem in this way, rather than through the racial bias lens, allows us to focus on creating the right solutions.

A Solution: By leveraging the internet to distribute high quality educational materials to lower income students, we can begin to bridge the socioeconomic divide. Organizations, such as Khan Academy, are leveraging the internet with great success. Even the Department of Education released a study stating that “on average, students in online learning conditions performed better than those receiving face-to-face instruction.”

We should also focus on supporting those organizations that help students from lower income brackets find and make use of high quality online educational material. Organizations, such as the Level Playing Field Institute, are close to the local communities and provide the support and mentorship that students need to understand the value of education and to develop good study habits. Regardless of race, providing access to high quality online educational material and combining this material with the support services of grassroots organizations is a better path to address declining SAT scores and to help narrow the achievement gap.

Mr. Lee is CEO of Magoosh.com, which helps prepare students for standardized tests and entrance exams. 

 



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