When the College Board announced that reading scores for our high school seniors had declined for the fifth consecutive year, reaching levels not seen in 40 years [ “SAT reading scores hit lowest point in decades,” front page, Sept. 15], it attributed the results to an increasingly diverse pool of test-takers. It is not acceptable to explain a massive educational failure by saying that score results were caused by the inclusion of poorly educated minorities.

We have a school system designed for the industrial world of the previous century, seemingly incapable of adapting to the imperatives of a knowledge-based global world. This larger failure is compounded by a failure to resolve massive numbers of school dropouts, with rates for black youth ranging well above 50 percent in our major cities, and by minority unemployment that now reaches 40 percent in many areas.

It is not just scores that we must address.

Bill Brock, Annapolis

The writer, U.S. labor secretary from 1985 to 1987, is co-chairman of a panel examining science, technology, engineering and mathematics education at the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress.