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SAT scores are flat

Flat SAT Scores
September 26, 2013

SAT scores are flat this year, following two years of declines, according to information being released today by the College Board.

The data also show that score gaps by race and ethnicity remain significant -- and in some cases have been growing. And the statistics show continued growth for the ACT, which now outpaces the SAT in the volume of tests taken. ACT score averages, announced last month, were down this year.

Here are the average scores for the three parts of the SAT for the last eight years, the period following revisions of the SAT that included adding an essay.

SAT Average Scores

Year Critical Reading Mathematics Writing
2006 503 518 497
2007 501 514 493
2008 500 514 493
2009 499 514 492
2010 500 515 491
2011 497 514 489
2012 496 514 488
2013 496 514 488

As has been the case in past years, the data from the College Board show that SAT scores vary by income. The College Board uses 10 family income categories, from $0-$20,000 to more than $200,000. In all three parts of the SAT, the average score goes up as family income rises -- through every income category.

The data also show -- with very little change -- that SAT scores continue to vary significantly by racial and ethnic group.

SAT Averages by Race and Ethnicity, 2013

Group Critical Reading Mathematics Writing Total
American Indian 480 486 461 1,427
Asian 521 597 527 1,645
Black 431 429 418 1,278
Mexican-American 449 464 442 1,355
Puerto Rican 456 453 445 1,354
Other Latino 450 461 443 1,354
White 527 534 515 1,576

The gap between Asian-American and other students is continuing to grow. In a year in which average scores over all were flat, growth in average scores by Asian-American students were up by 4 points across all three parts of the SAT.

An analysis of the data by the National Center for Fair & Open Testing (a group that has long been critical of the SAT) found that since 2006, the combined Asian average score is up by 45 points, while the average scores of all other groups are down -- by between 6 and 28 points. FairTest, as the group is known, has long argued that testing does not narrow gaps or promote real reform in American education.

Bob Schaeffer, public education director of FairTest, said via e-mail that the flat SAT scores, following declines, should raise questions about educational initiatives at all levels of education. "If the SAT really assesses higher education readiness, as the test makers claim, the past decade of test-driven public education has been a total flop."

The College Board noted that -- as is the case with the ACT -- those students who take rigorous college preparatory courses do better on the SAT.

A statement from David Coleman, the College Board's president, said: "While some might see stagnant scores as no news, we at the College Board consider it a call to action. We must dramatically increase the number of students in K-12 who are prepared for college and careers."

Declining Market Share?

This year's figures also show a continued gain for the ACT and loss for the SAT in market share on the test. Historically, the SAT has been taken by many more students. But last year, for the first time, the ACT beat the SAT -- although only by about 2,000 students (out of more than 3 million). This year, the ACT lead grew -- to 1,799,243 to 1,660,047. The SAT total is actually down a few thousand from the prior year.

The College Board is currently in the process of revising the SAT.

 

 

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