The College Board has released the most recent round of SAT scores, which have declined. The organnization, which owns and administers the test for college-bound students, states that 43 percent of test-takers meet college-readiness benchmarks. If I remember my math correctly, that’s less than half.
The Chronicle of Higher Education reports: “The College Board noted that the decline in average SAT scores could probably be explained by the increase in test takers from varied academic backgrounds. The board said the scores did not necessarily represent a decline in performance, and it reported more high-performing students among the Class of 2011 than in previous years.”
Inside Higher Ed has a more downbeat take (links to data are embedded):
SAT scores are down this year. And while the College Board played down that news and attributed the falling scores to growth in the test-taking population, the downward shift runs counter to recent patterns. The data also show continuation of a trend that has concerned many educators for years: growing gaps by race and ethnicity in how students perform on average on the test.
The trend in recent years has been a point up in one part of the SAT, offset by a point down in another part — with minimal movement in total. But this year saw a three-point decline in critical reading, a one-point decline in mathematics, and a two-point decline in writing.
SAT Scores 2011
Section of Test Score 1-Year Change 5-Year Change Critical reading 497 -3 -6 Mathematics 514 -1 -4 Writing 489 -2 -8
The writing score has been gradually falling since it was introduced in 2006. Of the reading and mathematics tests, which have been around a lot longer, the combined score of 1011 is the lowest total since 1995. In the years since 1995, those two scores combined have reached as high as 1028.
The ACT, the SAT’s rival in the college admissions testing field, saw modest gains in its composite scores this year.
Proponents of both the ACT and SAT note that those who take college preparatory courses earn better scores, on average, than those who don’t. And this year’s data for both tests reinforce that message. But the data also show both longstanding and growing gaps in scores, when examined by socioeconomic groups.
The College Board breaks down score averages by family income, starting at income levels below $20,000 and going to more than $200,000. With 10 income levels, and three parts of the SAT, the average score rises on each test at each income level, from 460 in mathematics in the below $20,000 range to 586 in mathematics for those with family incomes of more than $200,000.