In Each Category, National SAT Scores Fall

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

The average SAT score fell by six points this year, to 1,500, according to a report released by the College Board. The smallest slip was in the math section of the examination, which dropped from 515 to 514. The writing average fell by two points, from 491 to 489, while reading felt a three point drop: 500 to 497.

The New York Times covered the story, citing the College Board and FairTest public education director Robert Schaeffer.

The College Board attributed the decline to the increasing diversity of the students taking the test. For example, about 27 percent of the nearly 1.65 million test-takers last year came from a home where English was not the only language, up from 19 percent a decade ago.

But Robert Schaeffer, public education director of FairTest, a nonprofit group critical of much standardized testing, said the declines were an indictment of the nation’s increasing emphasis on high-stakes testing programs and of No Child Left Behind, the federal education law that has driven it.

“How many wake-up calls do policy makers need before they admit that their test-and-punish strategy is a failure?” Mr. Schaeffer said. “Policymakers need to embrace very different policies if they are committed to real education reform.”

About 30 percent of those who took the SAT were black, Hispanic or American Indian, groups whose scores have stubbornly remained lower than those of whites and Asians.

“There are still consistent gaps, but that speaks more to access to quality education than to what’s going on with the SAT,” said Wayne Camara, the College Board’s vice president for research and development, adding that, for example, white and Asian students were far more likely than black or Hispanic students to take precalculus and calculus in high school.

Read The Times’ full article here.

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