Average SAT scores dip again
Aug. 28, 2007
Average math and reading SAT scores fell four points for the high school class
of 2007 to their lowest mark since 1999.
Last spring's graduating seniors scored on average 502, out of a possible 800
points, on the critical reading section of the country's most popular college
entrance exam, down from 503 for the class of 2006. Math scores fell three
points from 518 to 515.
This year's declines follow a seven-point drop last year for the first class to
take a lengthened and redesigned SAT, which included higher-level math questions
and eliminated analogies. The College Board, which owns the exam, insisted the
new exam wasn't harder and attributed last year's drop to fewer students taking
the exam a second time. Students typically fare about 30 points better when they
take the exam again.
The College Board's score report, for release Tuesday, did not offer an
explanation why this year's scores were even lower, but it did note that a
record number of students - just short of 1.5 million - took the test. The
cohort of test-takers also was the most diverse ever, with minority students
accounting for 39 percent: There has been a persistent gap between the scores of
whites and the two largest U.S. minority groups, Hispanics and blacks.
In New York, 99 percent of students took the exam, up from 88 percent last year.
Maine recently became the first state to use the SAT to meet its Grade
11 assessment requirements under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, and 100
percent of students took the exam there, compared to about three-quarters in the
class of 2006.
While the growing number of test-takers is considered a sign more people are
interested in college, it can also weigh down average scores, because the pool
of test-takers expands by including, on average, more lower-scoring students.
The number of black students taking the SAT rose 6 percent, and the number of
test-takers calling themselves "Other Hispanic, Latino or Latin American"
(a group that does not include Puerto Ricans or Mexican Americans) rose more
than 25 percent.
Average scores also slipped from 497 to 494 on the writing portion of the SAT,
which debuted with the class of 2006. Many colleges are waiting to see results
from the first few years of data on the writing exam before determining how to
Figures released earlier this month on the rival ACT exam showed a slight
increase - from 21.1 last year to 21.2, on a scale of 1 to 36 - for the class of
The SAT has historically been more popular on the East and West coasts, while
the ACT has been more popular in the Midwest and inland western states. But more
and more students are taking both exams to try to improve their college resumes.
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