The Palmetto Insider

The blog of the South Carolina Policy Council

SAT Scores Keep Falling as Public Education Spending Keeps Rising

with 3 comments

As our latest analysis of the state’s 2010 SAT results indicates, it’s difficult to put a positive spin on the 5 point drop in South Carolina’s average score.  Here are some initial observations:

  • South Carolina’s score of 1447 was the second-lowest among all 50 states, second only to Maine. Last year, we were third-worst, besting only Maine and Hawaii.
  • Obviously, we also scored lowest in the South. The only silver lining is that we narrowed the gap. Last year, we were eight points behind second-to-last Georgia; this year, we were six points behind Georgia.
  • Again, private schools and religiously affiliated schools outperformed the state’s public schools. Public school test scores fell by two points to an average of 1443. In comparison, the average score at S.C. private schools increased by 20 points to 1528. Scores at religiously affiliated schools increased by one point to 1563. The achievement gap between private and public schools increased by 22 points.
  • Perhaps even more disturbing is that even our best students aren’t doing very well. South Carolina students in the top 10 percent of their class scored an average composite of 1689. Their peers in other states scored 70 points higher with an average of 1759. (See Part I of our analysis, for more information.)
  • Above-average students in South Carolina (top 11 percent to 20 percent of their class) scored below the national average for all students nationwide.
  • Only nine S.C. school districts (including charter schools) scored higher than the national average of 1509 points.
  • Finally, while the ethnic achievement gap narrowed very slightly (falling by 8 points between 2009 and 2010), the gap between students from the state’s wealthiest and poorest households increased to 378 points.

All this might seem like pretty terrible news for South Carolina’s education establishment. But to see the positive spin, you have to think like a bureaucrat. In the free market world, negative results have consequences: lower profits, a reduced budget, maybe even some heads roll.

In the world of South Carolina’s education bureaucracy, poor performance translates into demands for more education spending. In this world, there is not much correlation between performance and spending. Things go right, and you are justified in asking for more money. Things go wrong, and you are justified in asking for even more money.

It’s not as though South Carolina’s dismal performance on the SAT is anything new. Yet, we keep throwing good money after bad in a government-driven system that is still failing our children.

Consider that even in the midst of the worst recession in decades, education spending keeps going up. Since FY2008, K-12 spending has jumped from $7.222 billion to $7.895 billion, or by 9.31 percent. When local bond revenue is included, K-12 education funding has increased by 18.94 percent since the start of the recession.

And, so we see why free market education reform proposals—such as weighted student funding and school choice—continue to languish in the Legislature. A free market approach to education demands accountability and requires a continual search for better ways to help kids excel. When SAT scores fall, in other words, the free market approach to education would demand—and bring about—reform.

As things are, the only demands we are likely to hear from S.C. education policy makers are for more money. … And that means more of the same when the SAT results are released next year.


Written by Jameson Taylor

September 13, 2010 at 2:43 pm

Posted in Public education

Tagged with ,

3 Responses

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  1. […] 15, 2010 1:17 pm In a previous blog, we wondered what spin the Department of Education would put on the news that South Carolina had […]

  2. […] is bad news. But, as I wrote previously, what is worse is that even our best students have fallen behind.  (And, of course, daddy wants […]

  3. Now there are a lot of sources online. ISEE Test, SSAT Test Score Test Prep. Anxiety, Test Taking, GRE, GMAT, LSAT, BAR, MCLEX, ASVAB, ASWB, NCE, Praxis, Counselor Exam, Engineering Exam, Engineer Exam, Social Work Exam, and more… The students are very lucky. Because of many sources can be easily.


    April 5, 2011 at 2:12 pm

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