Scholastic Aptitude Tests measure high school students in reading, writing and mathematics.
According to The Associated Press, SAT results released by the College Board revealed reading scores for the high school class of 2011 are the lowest in the history of the tests.
Combined reading and math results are the worst since 1995.
Now, a good question is, "Why does this matter?" The quick answer is because the SAT (according to the College Board) is designed to be a common entrance exam so "students could apply to many institutions without having to sit for multiple tests."
In short, the SAT is designed to test how well our elementary and high schools are preparing students for college. Colleges use the results to predict how well students will do in higher education.
Now, the long reason for concern is that for at least the past decade, there has been a concerted effort by the federal government to improve education in the United States. Beginning with "No Child Left Behind" and continuing through "Race To The Top," the focus has been on making sure kids graduating from high school are prepared for college - and for the world.
So why aren't the results getting better?
College Board officials say one reason is that more people are taking the test - more students aspire to go to college than in the past. Many of those students (27 percent of them this year) come from homes where English is not the only language spoken.
The officials say it is only natural these students have problems with the reading and writing parts of the test.
If the those officials are correct, it would seem to indicate that, particularly in the early elementary years, even more time needs to be spent on English.
While STEM emphasis (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) has been a buzzword in education for the past couple of years, students in the U.S. will be crippled if they don't have a working knowledge of the language of commerce.
(A version of this editorial has appeared previously in The Maui News.)
* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.