by Arthur Purves
When my wife and I were looking for a home in Fairfax County 50 years ago, we asked the real estate agent how the schools were. “Excellent!” she replied.
But today? The Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) Oct. 5, 2022, press release on 2022 SAT scores shows that between 2018 and 2022 the average FCPS SAT score fell 27 points, from 1212 to 1185. The last time FCPS SAT scores decreased over a five-year period was 1989-1993, and the decrease was one point.
The Fairfax County Taxpayers Alliance (FCTA) emailed FCPS School Board Chair Rachna Sizemore Heizer to ask why SAT scores decreased. She forwarded our question to the Assistant Superintendent for Instructional Services, who replied that, “… five-year trends for mean SAT scores are down globally since 2018, a pattern consistent in Virginia and FCPS.”
However, the FCPS press release itself says that Virginia SAT scores increased 14 points while FCPS scores fell 27 points. So, the FCTA replied to Chair Sizemore Heizer with this correction and again asked why FCPS SAT scores decreased.
Two weeks have passed without an answer.
The FCTA emailed the same question to Hunter Mill District School Board representative Melanie Meren on December 9 and has not received a reply.
There is no sense of alarm, which itself is alarming. Over the same period, Prince William County SAT scores fell 7 points, Loudoun County fell 6 points, and Montgomery County’s score increased 58 points. Arlington County SAT scores for 2022 are not available.
SAT scores fell in 22 of Fairfax County’s 25 schools. For example, Langley fell by 12 points, Oakton by 23 points, McLean by 31 points, Marshall by 43 points, and Madison by 45 points.
The 2022 College Board State and District Integrated Report for Fairfax County Public Schools shows “SAT Performance by Race/Ethnicity.” This report is not posted on the FCPS website but is available on the FCTA website here. Asian scores fell by three points while scores for Blacks, Latinos, and Whites fell by 34, 27, and 29 points, respectively. The “One Fairfax”/CRT/Culturally Responsive Curricula focus is backfiring.
The 214-page FCPS FY 2024 Proposed Budget, which requests a $250 million spending increase, does not devote even one page to student achievement. Instead, it has a sidebar table with the 2021-22 SAT scores. The six-year SAT trend, which has appeared in previous budgets, is omitted. The budget is also silent on teacher resignations, which may be the cause of the lower scores, despite 6% annual raises every year from FY 2017 to FY2020 and a 6% raise this year.
The FCTA hopes that its members, elected officials, the press, and opinion leaders will ask the School Board why FCPS SAT scores decreased 27 points while Virginia scores increased 14 points. The contact page for the FCPS school board is here.
Arthur Purves is president of the Fairfax County Taxpayers Alliance. Its email is email@example.com.