NEW YORK — Minority students scored big gains on the Scholastic Aptitude Test in 1987. But the average for all groups stagnated for the third straight year, raising doubts about the progress of school reform.
The average verbal score among the 1.1 million college-bound students who took the two-part multiple-choice examination was 430, down a point from 1986 but still six points above the all-time low on that section reached in 1980, the College Board reported Tuesday.
The average mathematics score gained a point to 476, its highest level since 1976. The verbal and math portions are each scored on a scale of 200 to 800.
However, Education Secretary William J. Bennett said in an interview that he believed the SAT scores were "still too low" and that reforms "had not gone deep enough."
Blacks continued a decade-long pattern of gains. Average verbal scores have risen 21 points to 351 since 1977, and 20 points to 377 on the math portion.
But blacks remain a long way from closing the gap with white students, who averaged 447 on the verbal section in 1987 and 489 on the math section.
The national SAT averages, cited by the federal government and others as a barometer of school performance, have changed little since 1985. From 1981 to 1984, scores improved steadily.
Similar flat results were announced Monday for the rival ACT exam, the predominant college entrance test in 28 Midwestern and Western states. The four-part examination, administered by the American College Testing Program in Iowa City, Iowa, and taken by about 777,000 graduating high school students, dipped 0.15% to 18.7 from the year earlier, on a scale of 1 to 36.