A Word About the SAT Scores

At the Trustees’ meeting the other night, Mr. Nurge was critical of certain members of the community, claiming they’d characterized the academic results as “dismal”.  To put the record straight, let’s be clear that the SAT scores for BCSD, as posted in the April 2012 State Test Day results, are very, well, average.  In a couple of areas they were a few points below average, in one a couple of points above.  Not horrific, not dismal.  Just pretty much average.

However, this is certainly not what you’d expect from a district that describes itself as “world class”, “among the Top 5 in the region”, “best in the state”.  And, definitely not what you’d expect from a district that spends 2-3X more per student than those districts that ARE the best in the state.

The mediocrity of the test scores doesn’t really stem from having a lot of low-scoring test takers, either.  No one’s “dragging down the test scores” as a certain highly-placed BCSD administrator implied to me last year.  In fact, BCSD does a wonderful job with less academically-capable kids and we have far fewer low scores than the statistics would suggest.

The problem, which I’ve tried over the last several years to explain to the head statistician and to the superintendent, is that we don’t have a lot of high-scoring test-takers either.  In fact, we have far fewer than the statistics say we should have.

For example, in the 2012 Test Day results for the Math Section of the SAT here’s an eye-opener:

Shoshone High School had 13 kids take the SAT in April 2012.  Two of those kids scored over 700.  (800 is perfect and anything over 700 is epic-good.  Those students in Shoshone did an awesome job and should be congratulated!)By contrast, the statistics say WRHS should have had 6 or 7 score up in that high bracket, but in fact we had no kids break north of 700 in Math.

Think about that a second.  Shoshone’s got less than 10% of the student population but still had two kids up in the highest score bracket.  We spend 30X more on our schools and no one topped the chart?  Why is that? 

Here is the link to the State Department of Education’s Score Report.  It’s a fascinating read, if you have the time:

Click to access Idaho%20School%20Day%20Report%20by%20District%20Clusters%20091412.pdf

No statistics were harmed in any way in the formation of this post.

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