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The Golden Verses Of The Stoic

Seneca and Epictetus refer to the Golden Verses of Pythagoras , which happens to provide a good framework for developing a daily routine, bookended by morning and evening contemplative practices. Zeno of Citium , who founded Stoicism in 301 BC, expressed his doctrines in notoriously terse arguments and concise maxims.  However, Chrysippus, the third head of the Stoic school, wrote over 700 books fleshing these ideas out and adding complex arguments to support them. 

SAT Scores Up - For Some, WAY Up

The College Board released the annual test results of its three programs—AP, SAT, and PSAT/NMSQT -- all in one report this year. Stacking them together gave interesting comparisons, but the news is fantastic.

An unprecedented number of students, including a large increase in minority and low-income students, participated and succeeded. Of the 1.67 million students who took the SAT, nearly half were minorities and nearly a fourth were low-income students. And the number of high school students who succeeded on at least one AP exam (earning at least a 3 out of 5) doubled in the past year.

The report did reveal a few areas that need attention very soon. First, too many students are missing out on opportunities. Thirty-nine percent of the 684,577 students who showed AP potential (indicated by high PSAT/NMSQT scores) didn’t enroll for a single AP class. Likewise, for SAT takers, 9 percent were close to achieving the college and career readiness benchmark and might have succeeded with less than a year of additional instruction.

I'll take those kind of problems every year, thank you very much. With the reports of the last twelve years, I'm very sure that no one was expecting to see the report show 39% of qualifying students, for one reason or another, didn't take advantage  of the AP courses. There are other College Readiness courses however. AP doesn't have a monopoly by any means (Despite what you may have heard from various groups like the Tea Party). So it would be interesting to see how many of those students made it into other programs.

For twelve years, nothing exciting has come from these reports. Comparatively, it is like these kids were being educated in another country. Since Common Core State Standards were implemented this last year (and for some the year before as well), I don't think it is much of a reach to suggest CCSS had something to do with this drastic change. And let’s note that this testing class is the first to have experienced the full run of No Child Left Behind, since kindergarten, which was supposed to have engineered gains in college readiness. Not so much. But let's do a little digging, just to see if this theory has any merit at all.

First we'll look at the states that didn't go to the Common Core State Standards. That would be (for last year) Texas, Wyoming and Virginia.

Overall, nationwide, 42.6% of SAT takers in the class of 2014 met the SAT College and Career Readiness Benchmark. This number has remained virtually unchanged over time. Among all U.S. public school test-takers, 39.1% met the benchmark. Some SAT takers are not in public schools, but in other programs.


In Texas, 33.9% of test-takers (60,732 students) met the SAT College and Career Readiness Benchmark. Among public school students, 31.9% met the benchmark (52,313 students).

The exam, showed that the average score on the math section of the SAT dropped four points from last year to 495. That was the lowest figure since 1992, when Texas students recorded an average score of 493. A perfect score is 800.
In reading, the Class of 2014 in Texas scored an average 476. That was down slightly from last year but still two points better than their worst showing in the past two decades. That occurred in 2012.

In writing, Texas students registered an average 461 for the third year in a row.

State education officials have attributed the declining SAT scores in Texas to an increase in the number of minority students taking the exam. Minorities generally perform worse than white students on standardized achievement tests like the SAT and ACT, the nation’s two leading college entrance exams.

However, California students outperformed Texans by big margins this year — 15 points in math and 22 points in reading. Demographics of the student populations in the two states are similar: California is 52.7 percent Hispanic and 25.5 percent white, while Texas is 51.3 percent Hispanic and 30 percent white.


In Wyoming, 81.4% of test-takers (140 students) met the SAT College and Career Readiness Benchmark. Among public school students, 85.4% met the benchmark (111 students). Only 3.3% of the students took the test.

I'm not sure that Wyoming helps us with our theory. While 81.4% is amazing, it also opens up a number of question, like, what happen to all of the other students?


In Virginia, 46.6% of test-takers (27,893 students) met the SAT College and Career Readiness Benchmark. Among public school students, 44.9% met the benchmark (23,603 students).

In 2012, which was a record year for Virginia, 43% made the benchmark.

Thus, Virginia continues to rise -- and with this continued show of growth, I understand why they would be hesitant to take on an "untested in the real world" change like CCSS.

Now let's look at California, Arizona and Washington state.


In California, 42.3% of test-takers (100,231 students) met the SAT College and Career Readiness Benchmark. Among public school students, 40.0% met the benchmark (82,004 students).

41.9% in the class of 2013. We talked a bit about California's success and challenges above so let's move on to Arizona


In Arizona, 48.5% of test-takers (10,973 students) met the SAT College and Career Readiness Benchmark. Among public school students, 47.2% met the benchmark (9,309 students).

2013 results show 37.1%. Note that they were very worried about changing over to CCSS would affect this year's results -- in a negative way. This is an amazing jump.


In Washington, 46.2% of test-takers (19,060 students) met the SAT College and Career Readiness Benchmark. Among public school students, 44.4% met the benchmark (16,148 students).

2013 shows only 39% made it.

NOTE in the report: However, about one in four Washington students in the SAT class of 2014 did not take a core curriculum. The same is true of test-takers overall.

We are missing a great deal. The scores I'm using are as general as you can get. The jumps from last year are affected by many variables, one of which is that the year before for many states was in the record low area, and teachers went to work with greater effort. Parent participation, funding, more parents home from war -- all of these things affect a child, and affect test scores.

No matter what the reasons however, last year, the kids did it right. Hoping for a good year for 2015.