Something’s puzzling about Rhode Island’s SAT scores.
Why are Rhode Island parents so lackadaisical about the poor value they’re getting from the state’s government schools? As Dan McGowan reports, SAT scores are down from where they were before the pandemic, and they were already low compared with those of neighboring states:
Math (minimum score of 530 out of 800): 25.3 percent
English language arts (minimum score of 480 out of 800): 47.1 percent
By comparison, 31.2 percent of students were considered proficient in math in 2019, and 50.5 percent were considered proficient in English language arts.
When it comes to overall scores in math and English language arts, the average Rhode Island student scored 971. In Massachusetts, the average was 1,129. In Connecticut, it was 1,025.
When I looked at SAT scores in Rhode Island compared with those of other states in which a majority of students take the SATs in 2015, I found the Ocean State public schools performed worse. I also found that our private, religiously founded schools performed as well as or better than similar schools in other states (much higher than public schools, in both cases), and that a larger percentage of Rhode Island families choose that option than elsewhere (18% versus 8%).
My conclusion at the time was that Rhode Islanders were using the relatively low-cost religious (mostly Catholic) schools as a form of school choice, and their children were benefiting from that choice.
So, how is it that Rhode Island parents aren’t storming school committee meetings and demanding improvement? Let’s take ideology and partisanship off the top of the analysis, with many families going along with the establishment Democrats because they are caught up in a shared belief system and/or benefit financially from the status quo.
Addressing the problem is an intimidating prospect, given how locked in Rhode Island’s governing system is, and to acknowledge how bad things are would be to acknowledge a responsibility to address the fact that your children are being deprived of an adequate education. Many parents, upon coming to this conclusion, simply take their children out of Rhode Island’s government schools, either by moving out of state or paying a little bit more for education in a private school.
Featured image by Vahid Moeini Jazani on Unsplash.
Private school customers don’t get a pass on the property taxes allocated to the government schools/daycares, so they’re paying a LOT more for education.
Many private schools have priced most out. My daughter’s school was $20,000 a year in the 90’s. I understand it is now $45,000 a year. Grades 1 – 12, think of the total.