September 18, 2011 at 2:39 PM EST - Updated June 25 at 11:00 AM
By Dr. Bill Bosher, NBC12 Educational Specialist
RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Well, the SAT scores are back! Just as families wait anxiously for the results for the proxy for college admissions, corporate relocation specialists and economic developers wait to see how states and the nation have done.
The headlines this week read that the results are the "lowest since the data became available in 1972". States that have numbers higher, even by a point or two, offer press releases punctuating their relative position to others.
The "Race to the Top" theme so aggressively funded by the federal government becomes a "race from the bottom" in the SAT sweepstakes. In some ways the contrived competition is like children saying, "I'll race you to that tree"…the destination is a relative place.
While the SAT has long been more of a "disqualifier" than a "qualifier"…a poor score could keep you out of a four-year institution more than a strong score could get you in… the value is clearly coming into question for many schools.
The irony is that the agnosticism comes when record numbers of students are taking the test. Some schools, like Wake Forest, no longer require it for admission. The greatest predictor of success in college has always been the "grade point average". The interpretation of this year's results is relatively simple, more students from more diverse backgrounds are taking the test; therefore, the results are lower.
Look at the results: Asian students outperform white students while white students have higher scores than Blacks and Hispanics. While college may still be the great American dream and achievement gaps clearly need to be closed, perhaps the real lesson is, not to try to move the tree, but to run to different ones.