Fewer Than Half of SAT Takers Ready for College

 
Alex Tu works on a computer during a computer science class at Carl Albert High School in Midwest City, Okla. Average SAT scores have dropped by 20 points since 2006. (AP)

Fewer than half of the students who took the SATs in the class of 2013 were academically prepared to take college-level courses, according to new figures released by the College Board, which administers the college entrance exam.

Only 43 percent of those who took the test received a total score of 1550 or higher out of 2400. According to the College Board, students who score at least 1550 are likely to earn a grade point average of B- or above in the first year of college. The percentage of students deemed ready for college has remained essentially stable over the last five years.

College Board President David Coleman said the stagnant scores should be considered a call to action.

“We must dramatically increase the number of students in K-12 who are prepared for college and careers,” Coleman said. “Only by transforming the daily work that students do can we achieve excellence and equity.”

Coleman was one of the principle architects of the Common Core State Standards, which are reading and math standards that have been adopted by all but a handful of states establishing what students should know by the end of each grade level in order to graduate from high school ready to enter college or the workforce.

Critics of the SATs argue the exam serves better as an indicator of a family’s income level than as a predictor of a student’s future success.

Bob Schaeffer, of the National Center for Fair and Open Testing (FairTest), which is critical of standardized tests including the SATs, said that average SAT scores have dropped by 20 points since 2006, when the exam began to include a writing section. He also said gaps between racial groups have widened since that time.

Support for the Common Core State Standards, Schaeffer said, is “based on the false notion that the way to make kids jump higher academically is to raise the bar, yell at them and threaten to punish their teachers. How much more evidence do policymakers need that this is a failed strategy?”

According to the College Board, the number of underrepresented minority students taking the SAT grew slightly from the previous year. African-American, American Indian and Hispanic students made up 30 percent of SAT takers in the class of 2013, up from 27 percent five years ago.

In addition, the percentage of African-American students who scored 1550 or higher rose from 14.8 in 2012 to 15.6 percent in 2013. For Hispanic students, the percentage meeting the benchmark grew from 22.8 percent to 23.5 percent.

The SATs will be administered this year to all public school juniors in Delaware and Idaho and to public school juniors and seniors in the District of Columbia, at no cost and during regular school hours.  

SAT Scores by State

State

Participation Rate

Reading Mean Score

Math Mean Score

Writing Mean Score

DE

100

451

457

443

ID

99.1

454

459

451

ME

94.9

462

467

451

DC

91.3

473

466

461

CT

85.4

508

512

512

MA

82.7

515

529

509

NJ

77.7

499

522

500

NY

76

485

501

477

GA

75.5

490

487

475

MD

72.5

497

500

486

RI

71.8

491

490

487

VA

71.3

516

514

498

PA

70.6

494

504

482

IN

70.3

493

500

477

NH

70.3

525

528

515

FL

67.2

492

490

475

SC

63.7

484

487

465

HI

63.6

481

504

468

NC

62

495

506

478

VT

61.3

516

519

505

WA

60

515

523

499

TX

58.5

477

499

461

CA

57.5

498

512

495

AK

52.2

508

505

482

OR

49.2

520

520

499

NV

47.6

492

494

468

AZ

35.3

521

528

502

MT

25.2

539

540

516

OH

17.1

548

556

531

WV

15.4

514

501

498

CO

14.3

578

581

562

NM

12

550

545

531

TN

8.1

574

569

566

AL

7.3

544

534

530

MN

6.2

595

608

577

UT

5.7

569

566

549

KS

5.6

589

595

568

LA

5.4

556

553

546

KY

4.8

585

584

572

OK

4.8

571

569

549

IL

4.6

600

617

590

WY

4.2

581

588

558

AR

4.1

572

570

555

MO

4.1

596

595

582

WI

4

591

604

576

NE

3.9

584

583

567

MI

3.8

590

610

582

MS

3.4

568

547

558

IA

3.1

592

601

570

SD

3

592

601

567

ND

2.4

609

609

581

US

 

496

514

488

Source: College Board
 
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