The results are in and you are warned– they’re not pretty.
American highschools, as a whole, are entering a downward spiral with their SAT scores. Since 2006, SAT scores have fallen by 20 points, dropping from 1518 to 1498 in 2012. The decrease is hitting all three portions of the test: reading, mathematics, and writing.
What could make matters worse? These changes in both the SAT test and the resulting scores are hitting minority groups the hardest. The National Center for Fair and Open Testing reports that the average score for white students has fallen by 4 points. How have the minority groups fended over the years? The average score has fallen by up to a staggering 22 points.
There is, however, one very large exception to this trend. Asian Americans have not been affected in the same manner over the years. In fact, they’ve had the opposite outcome. Since 2006, the SAT scores of Asian Americans have risen by an astounding 41 points.
Researches, such as those from collegenews.com, have tried to look at the various factors that may have contributed to this strange phenomenon. They pointed out that Asian Americans excelled particularly well in mathematics, but they believe this is due to the fact that 47% of Asian American SAT candidates took advance mathematics courses while only 31% of Latino students and 25% of Black students took similar courses. So the explanation is that study prep is the reason behind the staggering disparity?
Asianweek‘s Andrew Lam also took a look at these results and argued that a much greater factor to look at is the mentality of Asian Americans. Lam recalls a friend of his who explained to him why success was necessary. “There was no question of failure,” Lam writes. “Back home, an army of hungry, ambitious and capable young men and women were dying to take his place, and for [his friend], a boat person who barely survived his perilous journey across the South China Sea, “dying to” was no mere idiomatic expression.”
Simply put, our circumstances have often been drastically different. Asianweek points out that it is not uncommon to find Asian parents who focus their entire life on the upward mobility of their children. They sacrifice their own well-being, work three jobs and even live in separate countries to ensure that their children get the necessary prep and education to advance in society. All of this sacrifice is done with the single goal that their children will go on to succeed and have a better life than they did.
Knowing that many of our parents struggled to benefit our education and many individuals in our homeland would ache for the opportunity, how can we not feel the often overwhelming pressure to achieve? How can we not take the extra prep classes? How can we not spend our nights studying for fear that all the sacrifice was for nothing? This pressure, which can drain us mentally and emotionally, is often what pushes us.
Yes, educational prep courses play a factor. But no, that simple explanation does not accurately show the circumstances and pressures placed upon our community. It’s much more complicated than that.