America’s high school seniors’ reading and math scores have hit a wall


Dear Friends,

A very informative article written by Joy Resmovits, an editor and reporter who covers education for the Los Angeles Times. Shared by Donna Garner, a retired teacher and education activist (

“America’s high school seniors’ reading and math scores have hit a wall”

Excerpts from this article:

America’s high school seniors’ reading and math test scores are barely holding steady or slumping, according to national standardized test results released late Tuesday.

Between 2013 and 2015, on average, students dropped slightly in math and held steady in reading.

The National Assessment of Educational Progress, known as NAEP, is a test administered by the federal government. It is considered the gold standard in measuring what students really know, because the results don’t have consequences that could encourage teachers or test takers to game the process.

In math, the average score dropped from 153 to 152, out of 300 points.

On the 500-point reading test, scores dropped one point to 287–a decease officials called statistically insignificant.

The results for seniors weren’t available on a state-by-state basis…

“We’re stalled. That’s the bottom line,”said Mark Schneider, a vice president at the American Institutes for Research who used to run the government agency that administers NAEP.

“We’re not making any progress.” The scores come as the country continues to teach and test the Common Core State Standards, a set of learning benchmarks intended to make school more demanding and lessons more consistent among states.

…Officials are confident that the National Assessment accurately captured what students across the country are learning. They said they know that in part because the declines on math were consistent across the areas tested, including geometry, data analysis and algebra.

In 2015, NAEP tested almost 19,000 students in reading and 13,000 in math. In both of those subjects, 37% of students were deemed to be ready for college.

Scores on the lowest end of the reading and math tests were worse than they had been in 2013.

The gap between students who tested well and those who tested poorly concerns Peggy Carr, acting commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics, the government arm that administers the exam. “We need to look at what it means,” she said.

There was one bright spot: In math, the test scores of English language learners…increased by six points since 2013.

But students with disabilities remained stagnant, and students who reported that their parents didn’t finish high school dropped by four points. And since 1992, black students dropped by eight points in reading… 

View the entire article:




Tincy Miller

SBOE, District 12

Get Ready to Ditch the SAT and ACT


Dear Friends,

A very informative article written by Robert Holland, a senior fellow for education policy with The Heartland Institute.Shared by Donna Garner, a retired teacher and education activist (

 “Get Ready To Ditch the SAT and ACT”

Decades from now, education historians may observe Common Core (CC) provoked a wave of activism that resulted in decentralizing U.S. education.

That was not what the power elites intended when they concocted standards and assessments intended to apply to all students, teachers, and schools. Their objective was centralization. But their arrogance has activated a hornets’ nest of angry parents intent on reclaiming control over their children’s schooling.

The revolt is going beyond the widespread opt-outs from federally mandated Common Core-linked testing.  Behind the scenes, hard work is proceeding on long-dreamed-of alternatives to the College Board’s century-old dominance of college-entrance testing. Impetus for that came when a key member of the Common Core cabal, testing consultant David Coleman, went straightway from writing the CC English standards to heading up the College Board on an explicit vow to align its SAT with Common Core.

Testing a New Test

Now, with the start of 2016 SAT testing, that has happened. However, the Vector Assessment of Readiness for College (ARC)—a budding SAT alternative—is happening, too. For four years, remarked company spokesman Julie West, “We spent a great deal of time researching entrance exams dating back generations, speaking with professors, retired educators, and professionals. Questions were developed, submitted, and reviewed. Sample questions were also sent to outside evaluators.”

‘Our assessment evaluates math skills through calculus, contains science through chemistry and physics, and contains questions regarding grammar and classic literature.’

ARC beta testing is underway, most recently at the Great Homeschooling Convention in Cincinnati during the first weekend of April. Homeschool families are a natural constituency because linking the SAT and other standardized tests to a de facto national curriculum places homeschoolers’ hard-won freedom from statist overreach and offensive standards in grave peril, but the ARC alternative also may prove to be useful for private and parochial schools, as well as public schools in states not plugged in to Common Core.

“Because the homeschool community is the only sector that has not experienced dramatic shifts in standards or curriculum over the past several years, we have focused on them during beta,” said West. “However, any student with an SAT/ACT or PSAT score may participate in beta testing.

“Because our assessment evaluates math skills through calculus, contains science through chemistry and physics, and contains questions regarding grammar and classic literature, we believe high-achieving students from private and public schools will also benefit from ARC,” said West. “Because we will not permit super scoring, much of the socioeconomic bias has been addressed. Finally, because we are not a timed test, those with special-needs students have been excited to learn about ARC.”

A Drive to Feed Students Substance

Super scoring is a dubious practice whereby students can take their highest scores from multiple SAT tests and piece them into one inflated outcome. Eliminating that kind of gaming would be a solid initial accomplishment for Vector ARC.

Alternatives to the powerhouse College Board, founded in 1900, have been a long time coming.

The Vector team states its assessment will “assess both proficiency of subject matter as well as overall cognitive abilities,” thus maximizing students’ opportunities “to present their strengths.”

At least one other alternative to the entrance-exam monolith is already available, offered through the Annapolis-based Classic Learning Initiatives, which started in 2015. Administered online at testing centers, the two-hour Classic Learning Test (CLT) draws on the works of some of the greatest minds in Western tradition, thinkers of the caliber of C.S. Lewis, Flannery O’Connor, G.K. Chesterton, Martin Luther King Jr., Plato, and Socrates. Several renowned liberal arts colleges, including St. John’s and Thomas Aquinas, accept CLT scores as an alternative to the SAT or ACT.

Alternatives to the powerhouse College Board, founded in 1900, have been a long time coming. The ACT became one such alternative in November 1959, and in 2011, it actually edged out the SAT in total test-takers. Richard Innes, an education analyst at the Bluegrass Institute, says some officials at ACT still believe its “traditional mission is to provide a quality college readiness test that is useful to college admissions offices.” However, Innes also said ACT’s recent joint venture with Pearson Publishing to create a Common Core-type test called Aspire appears to have introduced “mission confusion” at the company.

Then there is the freshly revised federal education law that lets school boards use the SAT and ACT as their federally mandated annual tests, even for students who don’t plan to go to college, saving money for local school districts and ensuring these education-testing giants have continuous access to a $700-million-per-year market. With big education and big testing continuing to feed off each other, the yearning for individualized alternatives is likely to grow.




Tincy Miller

SBOE, District 12