Posted on September 14, 2010

Stagnant SAT Scores

Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed, September 14, 2010v

The overall scores on the SAT were unchanged for those who graduated from high school this year, with the critical reading average remaining at 501, the mathematics average going up by 1 point to 516 and the writing score dropping by 1 point to 492.

Scores in all three sections are down modestly from where they were a few years ago. The College Board continued its push, in releasing the scores Monday, to argue that the scores are a measure of academic rigor and that the SAT encourages college preparation. {snip}

But the figures released Monday also show a continuation–and in some cases a growth–of gaps by racial and ethnic group that are much larger than the one or two point shifts in the national averages. The College Board also announced Monday that its figures were counting more students than in the past who took the SAT later in the school year {snip}.


The more significant changes are evident when race and ethnicity are factored in. Asian-American test takers gained 13 points this year (across all three parts of the SAT), followed by Mexican Americans, who gained 7 points. Comparing scores over two years, Asian Americans gained 26 points, Mexican Americans gained 5 points, and all other groups lost ground (modestly). Asian Americans now outscore African Americans by 90 points on reading, 163 points on math, and 106 points on writing. Asian Americans score better than all other groups on all parts of the test–except that the white average exceeds the Asian American average on the reading portion. On that portion of the test, however, Asian Americans gained 3 points this year, while white scores were flat.

Another demographic trend that continued this year–as in all past years–was the apparent link between family income and SAT scores. {snip}

Another of the demographic indicators–all cited by those who criticize the role of the SAT–is parental education. The more education parents have, on average, the better a student’s SAT scores. {snip}


[Be sure to see the original article for tables.]