Flatlining SAT Scores Are ‘A Call to Action’ for Educators

Katherine Jacobsen, Christian Science Monitor, September 26, 2013

More than half of the high school students who took the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) are not prepared for college, according to a report released Thursday by the College Board.

Of the 1.6 million test takers for the graduating Class of 2013, 43 percent met the SAT’s College and Career Readiness Benchmark, and 57 percent did not.


Students who meet the benchmark score of 1550 on their SATs are more likely to enroll in a four-year college, and are more likely to complete their college degrees, the College Board says. A perfect score on the SAT is 2400, and it was achieved by 494 people in 2013, or less than 0.33 percent of all test takers.


Men scored better in critical reading and mathematics, while women fared better in writing. That pattern that has persisted since the writing section was introduced in 2006, according to average test scores.


While SAT benchmark results have been virtually stagnant for the past five years, there was a slight increase in scores for African-Americans and Latinos.

Among African-American test takers, 15.6 percent met the SAT benchmark, up from 14.8 percent in 2012, and 23.5 percent of Hispanics met the benchmark, an increase from 22.8 percent in 2012.

But those numbers are no cause for celebrating, says Donna Ford, a professor at Vanderbilt University’s School of Education.

“There’s an increase, and I’m happy about that, but it’s still not enough,” says Professor Ford, noting the continued existence of a huge gap between scores of African-American and Hispanic students and those of white and Asian-American students.


A new version of the SAT is currently in development and could address some of the background disparities among students. A recent survey of college admissions officers found that most say changes are needed to reduce socioeconomic and cultural biases. The new version is due out sometime in 2015.

[Editor’s Note: The report the College Board released to the media did not mention the percentages of white and Asian test-takers who reached the College and Career Readiness Benchmark.]

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