NH Department of Education not being honest about SAT

NH Department of Education isn't really being honest about the SATs.

By Michelle Levell

Dr. Virginia Barry and the state Department of Education are bragging that roughly 90% of NH’s 11th graders participated in the SAT last spring. Well, of course! It was the required statewide assessment for that grade level, replacing the useless Smarter Balanced Assessment as of this year.

Did they tell students and parents that the SAT is aligned to Common Core (aka College and Career Readiness Standards) as of March 2016? The ACT will switch soon, too. This means that the SAT and ACT are focused on high school standards and not a predictive measure of college success.

Did they tell people that more and more colleges are abandoning the SAT as a college admission tool? It is a way the SAT and ACT can continue to make money and grow in a new market when they’re losing in the college-prep arena.

Did they inform people that many professional college-prep advisers recommended against clients taking the March 2016 test because it is still a great experiment with many problems?

The switch from the Smarter Balanced Assessment to the SAT for 11th graders was a compromise in HB 323 (2015). Superintendents lobbied for it so the SAT testing fees would be covered by the state. High participation rates also make the state look good on various education rankings.

So is the switch from the Smarter Balanced Assessment to the SAT about helping students prepare for college or just appearances?

At least the March SAT scores were available in June, unlike the Smarter Balanced Assessment which won’t release results until October.

The state DOE recently announced preliminary 2016 SAT results and they are not big improvements over last year’s dismal SBA scores. According to state officials, “the SAT benchmark scores represent a 75% likelihood of a student achieving at least a C grade in a first-semester, credit-bearing college course in a related subject.” At the end of the DOE’s news release, it says that the benchmarks are for “entry-level, credit-bearing college courses.” What many don’t realize is thatCommon Core, and everything aligned to it, is designed for community colleges, not top universities across the country.

So how did NH students do? The results indicate that 67% of all 11th-grade participants met the benchmark for English Language Arts and 41% did so for mathematics. Yes, you read that correctly. Only 2 out of 3 NH’s juniors could expect to earn a C in a first-year college English class, and only 2 out of 5 could do so in an college math course.

Manchester’s SAT scores were announced just yesterday and are below the statewide average. The average of all four high schools show that barely half, 52%, reached the benchmark in English and only 28% did in math.

Are these standards making our students college and career ready?

The state Board of Education officially adopted Common Core English Language Arts (ELA) and math standards in 2010, and the NH DOE continues to make excuses that they are still in the early stages of implementation and adjusting to new assessments to justify these poor results. How long will it take for NH to realize that Common Core, aka College and Career Readiness Standards, are failing our children?

Are these results something to brag about? We don’t think so.