Research Proposal

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Research Question: How have budget cuts and the varying importance of SAT results shaped public school curriculums over time and which components of a well-rounded education have suffered most as a result of these budget cuts?

Relevance: Just as elementary schools have adjusted curriculums to “teach to the test” in order to improve scores, high schools have also adjusted their curriculums in order to produce higher SAT scores and improve their college matriculation.  As schools become underfunded they must decide which components of a child’s education must be sacrificed so that they can still receive a proper education while also attempting to receive a well-rounded education.  As budget cuts increase, schools are being forced to cut programs that do not directly translate into test results, and important programs such as the arts and athletics are suffering within schools and students are no longer receiving the education across the same variety of subjects that used to receive.  This research project will observe how schools have adjusted their curriculums in correspondence to the fluctuating importance of the SAT when compared to grade point average.  I would also like to observe how these curriculum adjustments have affected college matriculation in order to compete with more privileged private schools.  Recently, more privileged families have used their resources in order to ensure that their children will be able to receive all the benefits of a well-rounded education, however students without such benefits have suffered.  Initially it seemed that schools were making the smart decision to prioritize SAT scores and linked them directly with a student’s preparation towards college success.  Recently, those opinions have begun to vary as schools are now attempting to find ways to ensure that students are able to participate in a variety of classes and activities in order to maintain an interest in school and motivate students further to want to succeed at the high school and college levels.

Research Strategy:

  1. The first component of my research involves searching online databases for articles involving SAT importance in high schools since its installation in 1926.  Articles were also researched that examined the severity of budget cuts within certain schools and observing which programs were more generally favored when those cuts were enacted.  The research covers budget cuts more specifically within the last fifty years as the SAT became more established as a factor for college admissions and observing how public school curriculums were adjusted in order to more greatly aid students succeed in the SAT and allow the schools college matriculation to improve.
  2. I have contacted Stephen Wallace, the former directors of Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) for an interview and he has agreed to discuss the importance of a well-rounded education while also highlighting the additional risks teenagers face when schools are not able to create a more well-rounded environment due to schools not being able to provide the programs, and when the importance of the SAT is stressed to older students, they are also prone to enter high-stress environments that can affect teenagers without the benefits of other programs to help them.
  3. I am also considering contacting some of my peers that transferred from their local public schools after programs that they had been heavily involved with had been cut from the school.  These interviews would establish the present danger that public schools face when a well-rounded education was sacrificed in order to prioritize programs that focus towards SAT results and programs that were more traditionally recognized to aid college matriculation.
  4. I am also planning on looking through Trinity College’s admissions records and observing how the percentage of applicants from public schools has changed over the last fifty years, and comparing them to data that will compare the SAT scores of average student, the average public school student, and the average private school student.


Gewertz, Catherine. “SAT Scores: A Gauge of College Readiness?” 14 Sept. 2011. Web. 1 Apr. 2012.

Robelen, Erik. “Budget Pact Deals Blow to Literacy, History Programs.” 13 Apr. 2011. Web.

Wallace, Stephen Gray: Former CEO of Students Against Destructive Decisions.  Author The Reality Gap.

2 thoughts on “Research Proposal”

  1. Charlie, this is an interesting topic but the research question needs to be revised to become more focused. Based on our discussions, you clarified that you wish to revise your RQ into something more like: “Has the practice of ‘teaching to the test’ become more or less prevalent over (x) years, and why?” Still, this may not be as insightful as we would expect from an Ed 300 project because nearly everything I’ve read over the past decade has suggest that the direction of this practice is up. Maybe there’s more controversy on this topic than I realized? Maybe there are distinctions between private and public education on this issue? Or maybe the useful distinction is whether high schools are “teaching to the SAT” or not, since there are other state-imposed standardized tests.

    In any case, you definitely need to find more appropriate source materials that address this revised question. For starters, you might consider searching full-text databases for the phrase “teaching to the test” or “teach to the test” to see the popularity of this slogan over time, and what that tells us. You saw how I demonstrated this in class.

  2. Or maybe what you’re really asking is something like, “Given the rising pressures to ‘teach to the test’ in recent decades, how have different educators created instructional or advocacy strategies that resist this trend? Perhaps look at

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