I am careful not to insult other specific states – particularly because I am from New Jersey! – but I often tell students that once they drive through the country they will realize how well educated they are compared to their national peers. As such, they should embrace the SAT as a great way to demonstrate their relative strength versus a national playing field.
US News & World Report, the arbiter of all rankings(!), released a report on the best states. Connecticut came in 4th for education. But for towns along Shoreline-Southeastern, CT as well as Fairfield County Connecticut, Connecticut is really number 1 for education. Here’s why: we live in a small state. Our suburban population’s statistics are disproportionately affected by Connecticut’s cities. I wish it wasn’t the case but Hartford, Bridgeport, New Haven, and, to a lesser degree, New London and Norwich, bring down the overall test scores and other educational measurements that affect these rankings.
The good news is that the schools in Connecticut’s affluent suburbs – Branford, Guilford, Madison, Old Saybrook, Old Lyme, Valley Regional, East Lyme, etc. all are extremely strong compared to the rest of the nation. That should be wonderful news in relation to the college search. But there is a distinct issue that most parents don’t fully understand: grades/class rank at your children’s schools are deflated in relation schools across the nation. Getting As and being ranked in the top 25% of one of our Connecticut high schools is harder to do than getting similar marks in lesser high schools. Also, and I have written about this issue in greater depth elsewhere, grade inflation is rampant throughout most high schools. As such, having a 92 average from an excellent high school such as Old Lyme is not quite as impressive as it should be in relation to others, such as a student with a 92 average from a high school in Mississippi (the perennially lowest ranked state in education). Unfortunately, we don’t have to find examples as extreme, we can look at our Connecticut neighboring towns – and I’ll refrain from offending anyone – to know that some schools that are adjacent on the Shoreline and/or one or towns inland are not as strong as a powerhouse like East Lyme High School.
That leads to the SAT as the weapon that will differentiate your child. Students at our local high schools do wonderfully well on a comparative basis on national standardized tests. Maximize those and you have the strongest weapon in your college admissions arsenal.