So often when we are raising our children, parents are wandering around in the dark, looking for clues about how to move forward.
Especially as our children grow into teenagers and begin moving toward adulthood, we can find it difficult to give sound advice because often we are trying to figure out the future without any hard information.
The top students already know where they are going: on to college. And the students at the bottom of the class are probably looking at seeking some kind of job training or enlisting in the military while they sort out their life.
For so many teens in the middle — those who are closer to average than the top or bottom of their class — the future can by mysterious. Are they “college material,” or should they seek other kinds of training for a career?
That is why a change that has been instituted by Frederick County Public Schools is so important. The system will now give the parents of almost all high school juniors some hard information about their children, information that they can use to help guide their teens as they consider what to do after graduation from high school.
The change was the decision to administer the SAT Test — which aims to measure a teen’s likelihood of success in college — during the school day instead of on a Saturday. As a result, virtually all of the juniors in the school system took the test last spring.
Almost every parent will now have an objective measure of how ready their child is to attend college. No longer will parents have to guess about projected success. It will enable them to help their child make an informed decision.
The SAT participation rate in the Class of 2019 was 95 percent, compared with a 64 percent participation rate in the Class of 2018. That is an increase of 873 students.
The parents of those additional students will now have the opportunity to challenge their children to go on to college or not, based on more than just a gut instinct.
“Increased participation was due to the SAT school-day administration for all FCPS juniors, implemented in spring 2018,” Deborah Gilmartin, the system’s state assessment and accountability supervisor, said in a news release from the schools. “Adding SAT administration on a school day was purposeful to increase access to post-secondary education for all students. The FCPS participation rate far exceeded Maryland’s rate of 77 percent.”
We are pleased by the increased participation rate, because we believe that it will identify some students who should consider attending college who might otherwise have been missed.
But we must acknowledge that the test results posted by the county schools did slip as a result. The county noted that FCPS students had an average combined score of 1058, which is 17 points higher than Maryland’s average score and 19 points higher than the national average.
However, the combined average score for the class of 2018 was 1149, which was 91 points higher than the 2019 scores. And the county’s scores were 83 points higher than the state average last year and a full 100 points higher than the national average. Without looking at the participation rate, it might seem the school system was slipping. That would be wrong.
We believe the that decline is a fair trade-off for much more widespread participation. The school system is giving useful guidance to parents, and we hope identifying more students who have the good chance to succeed in college.