Wednesday, August 30, 2006

We're #46!!!!

I lived most of my life in Snellville, as mentioned previously. Snellville is straight east of Atlanta. Now we live a little farther north in our county, in Buford, but that's beside the point. Snellville is very close to another Metro Atlanta city - Stone Mountain. Some of you may recognize that name because of the state park with the "confederate shrine," but we won't go there ;). Stone Mountain has a car dealership whose slogan was for years (still is, for all I know) "We're number two, going to be number one [in car sales]." Needless to say, they were sort of mocked for holding onto that slogan, especially for so many years.

Well, now Georgia has one-upped them :). Our Dear Governor Perdue (who I actually like overall. . . ) is giddy with delight that Georgia is now ranked number 46 in SAT score placement. . . . Last year we were tied for last place ;).

Perdue: We've jumped over [Florida, Hawaii, Pennsylvania and South Carolina], and nobody's going to take that away from us.

I'm not sure that there is a line to snatch #46 from our grasp, but whatever thrills him ;).

I remember studying graphs in statistics in high school, and looking at one that showed the distribution of SAT score averages by state. There were three clusters: the highest set of averages were for states that did not require the SAT, the second set was for states that did require the SAT, and the third cluster (no kidding) was Georgia and South Carolina.

. . . Gotta love Georgia.


John Dekker said...

Any ideas as to why this is the case?

Susan said...

Georgia is the 46th state, btw. I keep forgetting I have international readers :). I assume you gathered that, though.

States that do not require the SAT (using the ACT instead) score higher, because those students who do decide to take it are more motivated and off go out-of-state or to private schools. So the fact that Georgia requires the SAT already puts our average at a disadvantage. Also, Georgia and South Carolina are the only two Southern states (southern US, not southern hemisphere. . . )that require the SAT, and the South is not as sharp academically, overall.

In addition, Georgia's school system is very performance-based, which is completely the wrong way to approach education. Actually the whole US scores much lower than other developed countries in Europe and Asia (I don't know about Australia). Doug Wilson has a thorough critique of the US public education system (and public education in general) in his book Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning.

Of course the answer to all of this is more funding. . .

Ashley said...

I love Georgia. :-)

But I haven't ever been to a school in Georgia (other than homeschooling) except for one year at a Christian school. So I have no thoughts about the educational system. Ask me when my kid is 5.

Adrian C. Keister said...

To Susan.

Is Performance-Based Education the same as Outcome-Based Education (OBE)?

I've heard that OBE is not a good idea, but I know virtually nothing about it. Any chance I could wheedle you into explaining it? Please?

In Christ.

Susan said...


I was speaking of performance-based education in lower case letters, meaning that it is my self-description of the mess that is Georgia's school system. Perhaps Performance-Based Education is an official category (it wouldn't surprise me), but not that I know.

I am in essentially the same boat with you regarding OBE, since I don't know much about it either :). There was a movement years ago (I think I was in elementary school, though not enrolled in the system, as you know) to introduce OBE in my county, but it failed.

I am speaking largely from ignorance, but I know OBE focuses on subjective assessment, "student-focused" learning, and the like. Sort of like UGA's Math Education program! Here is an article on OBE that I though was a good summary. In short:

According to William Spady, a major advocate of this type of reform, three goals drive this new approach to creating school curricula. First, all students can learn and succeed, but not on the same day or in the same way. Second, each success by a student breeds more success. Third, schools control the conditions of success. In other words, students are seen as totally malleable creatures. If we create the right environment, any student can be prepared for any academic or vocational career.

What I meant by performance-based education is just the heavy emphasis in Georgia on test scores. They have a test for everything! Iowa Basics, Gateway, end-of-course tests (EOCTs, standardized, in place of class finals), and the Georgia High School Graduation test, and those are just off the top of my head. Our legislature thinks if we throw enough money and create enough standardized testing, then our educational woes will be solved. Of course, the standardized tests (like the EOCT or GHSGT) are heavily curved, ridiculously so, in fact.

Teachers are underpaid. No wait, they're undervalued. No wait, the administrators are underpaid. Or maybe it's that we don't have enough computers in the classroom. Or we need to "get back to the basics." No, the real problem is we need to "prepare our children for the future." And the list goes on. It's really nauseating.

*end cynical note*

Susan said...

And speaking of education, how is that doctorate coming? :)

Jessie said...

Oh, Susan, how could you forget "Cable in the Classroom"?? We neeeeeed it!

zan said...

I am so tired of the "underpaid teacher argument." They make more than many nurses and they get summers off. Most nurses also work Christmas and other holidays and don't got huge pentions.

Ann Coulter's latest book has a chapter on public schools. You would probably enjoy the chapter.I thought this quote was funny:

"Most stunningly, in fourth grade Americans are in the 92nd percentile in science literacy-bested only by students in South Korea and Japan. Eight years later, American twelfth-graders' science scores have fallen to the 29th percentile. (For those of you who learned math in U.S. public schools, going from 92nd to the 29th means it went down.) The only countries American twelfth-graders beat in science were Lithuania, Cyprus, and South Africa. If the U.S. Olympic gymnastics team could only beat Lithuania, Cyprus, and South Africa, there would be congressional investigations."

-Godless, Ann Coulter

Susan said...

As the daughter of a teacher, yes, teachers make sufficient pay :) - especially considering their benefits and vacation time! Amusing Ann Coulter snippet :). Can you believe I've never read anything of hers?

Adrian C. Keister said...


To Susan. I sympathize. The real question in my mind is this: are people ever going to consider the following choice. 1. Abandon the public school because they are probably beyond saving. 2. Being salt and light and staying in the public schools.

It seems to me that option 1 is not even considered, an action I think is not wise. I happen to believe that the public schools should not exist, a view informed by the (unfortunately out-of-print) book Is Public Education Necessary?, by Samuel Blumenfeld. That book is pretty much 100% history, and well-researched at that. It's tough to argue with his position: that various people started the public schools as an engine for the overthrow of Calvinism and the exaltation of the Unitarian heresy. Hardly a rosy beginning.

I hear you about the tests and more tests. There's nothing wrong with tests per se, unless you think too highly of them. Some people will never be good test takers. Others, like myself, tend to score more highly on tests than my knowledge of the subject matter would really warrant. Believe me, I do not view that as a blessing! The real world doesn't care about test scores, only competance.

Reply to Zan.

I've read a good bit of that book, and it is hugely entertaining. I wonder at it, though. I wonder whether Ann Coulter is going to accomplish anything beyond polarization. She tends to say things in the most extreme fashion possible. I happen to agree with almost all her conclusions, but if she's not stating it in a loving way, I somehow doubt she'll have many converts. She claims to be a Christian quite explicitly in that book.

In Christ.

zan said...

I agree to your assessment of Ann, Adrian. I think she is harsher in this book than in her previous books. I definately wouldn't take her boldness in the name-calling area.

Sometimes I am applauding her on, but sometimes I am cringing saying, "You didn't have to go there!"

Yes, she is supposed to be a Christian. She probably would be a better witness if she wore longer skirts. Good grief!

zan said...


My uncle was a public school teacher. He made more than my dad who was a software programmer. He retired at 65 and he and his wife have a large home in NJ and one in FL (on the beach). To go into their house, you would think they were doing very well, but he was always complaining of his pay and when he and his comrades would strike again. It would make my dad so mad! He would say nothing, though.

Susan said...


I think very few people are willing to abandon the public school system. I side with you, though, and consider that as the ultimate need. I see no saving attribute of our current system, not only because it is godless, but also because it is public. I haven't read Samuel Blumenfield's book, but I thought Doug Wilson's case against public education was quite excellent. I've been meaning to post some on that, in fact. I read his book for the classical education aspect, but I actually gleaned more from the section on the need for Christian education (and a critique of the public system), though the entire book was excellent!

Adrian C. Keister said...

Reply to Susan.

I'd be greatly interested in a post on Wilson's book. I have enormous respect for that book; I think it is easily his best effort. The thing I admire most about it is the fact that he doesn't just critique the existing system. He is masterful (mostly) in that aspect, but even better is the fact that he has a positive construction to replace it. He thus avoids the problem of the parable of the man with the devil who leaves, and the man sweeps the house and puts it in order, but doesn't put anything positive there. Of course the devil returns with his friends, and the poor fellow is worse off than before.

Part of the problem is that our standards and expectations are so incredibly low. If a John Owen or Jonathan Edwards came amongst us, we wouldn't know what to do with him. But such men were much more common back when they had classical Christian education.

In Christ.

Susan said...

My intent was to write up a post on Wilson's book earlier this summer, when I first read the book. It was excellent, and I wish every Christian would read it. That post never did happen, though :(. Alas, I got caught up in summer activities.

I would still very much like to write a post on the subject, and we shall see. I have drafted a blank post titled "Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning," simply to remind me. I actually have about 5 completed posts and 20 uncompleted posts in my draft folder right now. I don't like overwhelming my readership and spending a lot of time fielding comments from several posts at once, though, which is why I don't always post them as I write them. But then I draft a post and intend to post it in a few days, only to have a more pertinent issue come up. Ah well.

But yes, I hope to eventually write a post on Wilson's book :). . . although you pretty much already covered the first part in your post on public schools.

Ashley said...

Adrian's comment was interesting: Some people will never be good test takers...

I heartily agree. I have never been a good test taker, although you'd think I would be. College was hard for me grade-wise because oftentimes those test grades were the only ones you got. In high school, we had homework and projects that also contributed toward the grades. I discovered that I can do well on tests if I take them in a room without other people. I just get distracted by other people in the room. I do think that tests aren't always an accurate representation of what people know.

Susan said...

I remember you telling me about how much better you do with no one else in the room when you test. It is interesting how different people respond to testing. I'm much like Adrian; I do very well on tests, perhaps reflecting more knowledge than I sometimes have :). There are certainly advantages to a number of types of assessment. I'm not in favor of group tests, though, contrary to my UGA education training ;).

John Dekker said...

I don't like overwhelming my readership and spending a lot of time fielding comments from several posts at once...

Yeah, I know what you mean - I've got about three weeks worth of topics waiting to be blogged. But I still have to get around to writing them, and that takes time.

The other thing is - it's good to pause before you write something for all the world to see!

zan said...

I wasn't a good test taker, either.

Nursing was really hard and you had to get a 77% to pass on all your sujects. The majority of the final grade was tests. I get nervous pains just thinking about those mornings before the exams.

I did make it. I think I discovered how to study and how to take exams. I gradually did better and better.