SAT scores stagnant, many unprepared for college, officials say

September 25, 2013|By Stephen Ceasar
  • Sage Hill School students in Newport Beach take the PSAT. Average SAT scores for high school seniors nationwide stayed steady from the previous year, according to the report.
Sage Hill School students in Newport Beach take the PSAT. Average SAT scores… (Los Angeles Times )

The average SAT scores for the high school Class of 2013 remained stagnant from the previous year and fewer than half of the students who graduated were prepared for the rigors of college, officials said Wednesday.

Average SAT scores for high school seniors nationwide stayed steady in reading, math and writing, according to a report by the College Board, the New York-based nonprofit that administers the SAT and Advanced Placement program.

The combined average SAT score of 1498 was the same as last year; a perfect score on the three-section test is 2400.

In California, the combined average score of 1505 dropped 2 points from last year and 12 points from 2010.

Only 48% of test takers reached the "SAT Benchmark” — a score of 1550 that is associated with a 65% likelihood of obtaining a first-year college grade point average of B- or higher, according to the College Board.

Students who reach that threshold are more likely to enroll in a four-year school and complete their degree, the College Board said.

In high school, the students who surpassed the benchmark were more likely than their peers to have completed a curriculum of four years or more of English and three years or more of math, natural science and social science.

They were also more likely to have taken honors or Advanced Placement courses.

College Board President David Coleman said that expanding rigorous course work in schools is the only way to improve the rate of college readiness.

“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.”

There was, however, the highest representation of minorities among test takers in history.

In 2013, 46% of those who took the test were minorities, up from 40% in 2009.

African American, American Indian and Latino students made up 30% of test takers, up from 27% in 2009.

In California, 57% of graduating seniors — 234,767 students — took the exam, the highest number ever for the state.

Nationwide, participation has dipped slightly since 2011 for the SAT. Meanwhile, a rival college entrance exam, the ACT, has seen a steady rise in participation since 2003. About 54% of graduating seniors nationwide took the ACT, up from about 40% in 2003.

In California, 26% of graduates took the exam, up from only 15% in 2003, according to ACT officials.


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