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Little wonder, then, that SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) scores of American students have sunk to levels considerably lower than those achieved by students in the mid-1960s.

In fact, in the mid-1990s, the College Board (the body that sponsors the SAT) began to grade the SAT scores on a new curve, one that, according to a leading scholar, “has lowered the test’s ‘unchanging standard’ and our country’s educational aspirations.” For years the average score was based on the performance of students in 1941, but the board decreed that the mathematical and verbal tests would be “recentered” and based on the results of students who took the tests in 1990. Considering that the student scores dropped steadily since the early to mid-1960s before leveling off in 1980, this was indeed a white flag on the part of US educators. Meanwhile, news media regularly report on the continuing decline of standardized test scores, on overcrowding in classrooms, on public disenchantment about pouring more tax dollars into what they perceive to be an increasingly poor investment, and growing teacher disillusionment.

Nor is it a coincidence that about three in five of America’s prison inmates are illiterate. The link between illiteracy and crime has been well documented.

It is indeed a grim picture but is no better in most other parts of the world.


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