SAT scores continue decline; 57 percent of incoming freshmen not ready for college
The annual SAT scores have been released to the public and show a continued decline in math and writing scores.
Even worse, as CBS’s Money Watch reports, more than half of incoming college freshmen are not ready for the academic challenges of college.
"We must dramatically increase the number of students in K-12 who are prepared for college and careers," College Board President David Coleman said in a statement. "Only by transforming the daily work that students do can we achieve excellence and equity."
In the data released by the College Board, a full 57 percent of graduating seniors aren't ready to transition to college coursework, based on SAT results.
The average student performed better on the math portion of the test, scoring 514 out of a possible 800. On the reading comprehension portion, the average student scored 496. Students fared worst on the writing portion of the test, averaging 488.
Technically, the 2013 results are identical to those released in 2012. However, the College Board said the numbers represent a measurable 20-point decline since 2006, when the writing portion of the SATs was first introduced.
“While some might see stagnant scores as no news, we at the College Board consider it a call to action," Coleman said.
Still, there were some positive changes in this year’s data. For example, the number of minority students taking part in the SATs has increased significantly over five years ago: 46 percent of all SAT takers in 2013 were minorities. And among those minorities, African-Americans and Hispanic test takers both saw improved test scores from 2006.
However, the 1498 average total score for all test takers fell short of the 1550 SAT College and Career benchmark, which says students who score at or above that level have a 65 percent chance of earning a B- average.
Interestingly, the College Board also compared the average SAT scores for students based on which degree tracks they were planning to pursue.
Those students planning to study the physical sciences rounded out the top, averaging a score of 1,673 on their SATs. The most popular degree tracks — education (1442), psychology (1484) and business management and marketing (1661) fell further down the scale, though not as far as students planning to study construction or hoping to pursue careers in parks and recreation.
According to the College Board, the students who fare best on their SATs have completed a core set of coursework in high school, have taken AP or honors courses, and fell into the top 10 percent among their classmates in overall GPA.
The College Board, which helps students prepare for the SAT and other college course tests, has recommended a number of changes to improve scores, including providing more rigorous coursework for students.
It's also a reality where we have a system now where everyone is taking the SAT and everyone thinks they need to go to college.
This is incorrect. A college education is necessary if you are going to to some type of career that requires a formal education and is suited for those type of people who excel at that.
If you want to make a living being a electrician, plumber, truck driver what have you there is no reason you should be pushed to go to college and in the past these people wouldn't have even bothered taking the SAT.
Do you think that the lower writing scores are a result of the exclusive standardized multiple-choice testing? Duuuuuh.
I think the lower writing scores are due to txtng and other social media bullshit. Nobody has to write a coherent sentence anymore. Unless they're on here, of course.
The new Common Core curriculum is making kids dumb.
Is it weird that I'm 61 years old and still remember my SAT scores from over 40 years ago?
It may be weird, but I still remember mine.
My SAT score was 1250 combined. Not great. I scored higher in math than in English. I struggled in Trig while I always wrote English essays in AP classes that received a grade of "A".
The test was not a good indicator of my ability.
The test is very flawed.
You see that here in Europe as well, a lot of science students have major problems with calculus because their algebra knowledge is below par. A lot of starting Economics students can't even solve a simple first-order equation and fractions are a mystery to them. That was unheard of twenty years ago.
I remember my SAT scores from 1981 as well. I also remember where I took the test and exactly where I sat in the room. I developed the most hideous stabbing pains in my stomach. I guess it was the anxiety. I got a combined 1180 which was very disappointing, but I decided not to take it again since it was more than enough to go through once.
Generally, standardized tests such as the SAT and the GRE are not useful predictors of future academic success. (beyond a particular cutoff, of course). One of the first things my graduate program taught (within the first week) was that the correlation between GRE scores and later grades is .3, less than 10% of the variance. They saw fit confer me with a Ph.D., so...
Tough to compare today's scores with the scores of years ago, because they spend so much time gaming the system now.
When I was a kid, you signed up, you showed up in the cafeteria on a Saturday morning, you took the test, and then waited for the score to arrive in the mail.
Now, you can't believe the exam prep classes, the sample tests, and the multiple times they take the damn thing.
r2 nearly every job or career lists at least two years of college as a pre-req for employment, along with prior experience in the field (even if the field is food service). The idea that there are all of these careers/jobs that pay a living wage available out there that don't require higher education AND previous experience is a total fantasy.
I was pissed that my best friend got an SAT of 1330compared to my 1310!
With the current standards, both of us would be 1600+!
Government education is a failure. No wonder home school kids are being accepted to Yale, Harvard, etc. at a near 100% rate!
If I had been born 15 years later, and been aware of home school opportunities, I would be on that bus.
I'm an autodidact, so I would have been a perfect "Doogie"! Instead I had to go out into the college scene, fail out, be turned away from jobs for lack of a piece of sheepskin and have start my own fucking company.
Some days I would trade the cash for the chance to teach kids not to be such shitty brats- I would probably get fired for assault on some nimrod, but it would be worth it!
Many of the incoming freshmen had high school teachers who wouldn't have qualified to be teachers a dozen years ago.
In High School, in the 70s, I was the short bus member of my group with a score of 1450. We all went private and practically all at 100% scholarship/grant.
[Actually I was the only one who wasn't in the 1500s.]
Here's the thing. A public school education these days is all about "teaching to the test". Kids don't learn, beyond memorization. So you end up with wonky SATs because kids aren't expanding their vocabularies or how a relates to b which relates to c and influences d. That's why if you care about your children, go private. If you can't afford private, then you're going to have to plan for one of those test prep services.
[quote}I think the lower writing scores are due to txtng and other social media bullshit. Nobody has to write a coherent sentence anymore.
Write? You obviously haven't been to a public high school lately. It's all multiple choice and class presentations. God forbid the little darlings have to crank out a 5 page paper, and if they do you can forget proper punctuation and spelling, much less footnotes.
"No wonder home school kids are being accepted to Yale, Harvard, etc. at a near 100% rate!"
BS, but thank you for pushing your libertarian agenda!
The SAT is a flawed assessment. There is a significant cultural bias to many of the questions and scoring criteria. Guess what? The majority of test takers are no longer caucasian, middle-class whites.
I teach at a decent suburban high school. I don't teach English, but I do have my students write occassionally and most of them aren't good writers. Problem is, there is no time anymore for them to get better. Good writing takes time, practice, and feedback. The kids are all too busy with sports and extras and the teachers are too busy cramming for the tests (and many have too many students, which results in too many essays. Providing good feedback on writing takes time).
P.S. I am also old and remember my SAT scores. I won't share them because I didn't do very well, though I did perform better on the Verbal than the Math. I took the exam in my old junior high school. I still remember that.
P.P.S. I think the College Board is one giant racket. They are part of the problem, not part of the solution. Don't even get me started the AP exams.
Look at Harvard's site- they are encouraging home school kids, and boast about the fact that they accept +99% of home school applicants.
My HS age niece and the girls she hangs out with strike me as retarded half the time. They are in a decent school system, and some of her friends are in AP classes. They are all total airheads. I had to explain that Paranormal Activity wasn't actually real 'found footage'. No, they were not yanking my chain. I was shocked.
R22- they are just casualties of government skoolin'!
Why not just not accept those with low SAT scores? I think colleges feel pressure to accept more students even if it compromises the integrity of the school.
Also, the current SAT is out of 2400 and I got a 1500-something. The average score when I took it was like 1200, so I felt a little better that I scored above average-- although I wasn't satisfied with my score.
Young people cannot write because of the "Whole Language" theory that grammar does not have to be taught.
It's not surprising that those planning to study education scored below the benchmark. They'll be perpetuating the cycle.
Learning is for cultural elites!!!
What this means is that Charter Schools, the grand conservative social engineering experiment organized by George W. Bush to do a backdoor to unconstitutional education vouchers, have been a miserable failure. Which was obvious to everyone on the left except the President and Arne Duncan and Rahm Emmanuel.
R28- huh? Charter schools caused public schools to fail? WTF?
I'm not sure what you all are concerned about. I'm sure all these young people have excellent self-esteem.
I just took my daughter out of an AP class that was a ridiculous waste of time. I know correlation doesn't equal causation but I'm gonna go out on a limb and say these "College Board" fuckers are the cause of the decline of SATs by pushing these fucking bloated waste of time rote-memorization-encouraging AP classes. It's a big money making scheme to the detriment of education.
The College Board Achievement tests didn't seem to have much purpose. I took the one for American History and got 790 out of 800 (there were 3 questions I wasn't sure of the answer), but I don't think it influenced my college admission. I remember one of the questions was about The Great Awakening and I'm pretty sure I didn't select Jonathan Edwards.
I'm surprised that today's college freshmen don't have their mommies and daddies attending classes for them, writing their essays, and taking their exams for them. They've spent the previous 18 years being coddled every step of the way. Why stop now?
Old Time Do-It-Yourselfer
We really need to push science and math. The country needs engineers and chemists, not more english majors.
The children are our future.
Teachers unions prevent shitty teachers from being fired. Now they all teach a test not general learning.
R32, I took the American History one as well. I hadn't even planned on taking it, but for some reason the one I had planned on taking wasn't being offered that day. I think scored I 620, which was actually higher than my friend who was in AP American History.
I took the Writing SAT II, since at the time, writing was not part of the SAT I. I scored a 660, but my college counselor at hyper-competitive school suggested that I take it again! I declined; those fees add up.
R34 While I agree with you, they do need to learn to write as well. They should be able to create a structured, coherent lab report as if it were second nature to them, at the very least.
I think it's perfectly reasonable to assume that 57% of the population is not meant to go to college. That seems almost exactly right if I go by what I see on a daily basis.
Not everyone is meant for college. Forty-three percent entering college. Say, 40% actually finishing. And, finally, about 15% going on to graduate school. That seems like an accurate societal breakdown.
We also need higher standards for teachers. We need to get rid of the 'teach to the test' bullshit. We need to pay teachers like they are professionals and require them to actually be professionals. We need year round school. They can all still have their time off but not three months in the middle of the year in order for them to harvest their fields. I mean, WTF? It takes the first month, at least, of each new school year to catch the kids up on what they had already learned the previous year. Ridiculous.
And, of course, no one ever flunks anything, ever. The old Fs are the new Cs. When 12 year old Jimmy is still in second grade, maybe mommy and daddy will wake up and get him some professional help.
R29, it's not that charter schools have caused public schools to fail (which, btw, r28 did not claim in the first place—--what the hell school taught you to read?); it's that charter schools themselves have failed to improve upon or be any more effective than traditional public schools, while at the same time draining funds from traditional public schools.
Education activist DIane Ravitch has written extensively about the problems with charter schools; here's an example:
[quote]Teachers unions prevent shitty teachers from being fired. Now they all teach a test not general learning.
Your second statement bears no relationship to your first statement. Teachers "teach to the test" because students' test scores are what determines the teachers' salary increases, promotions, and whether they even get to keep their jobs, as well as determining how much govt. funding their schools receive.
Teachers do not teach to the test because that's what they feel like doing and they know the the union will protect them. Most teachers would vastly prefer not to teach to a test.
Where's the Affirmative Action troll?
I wish the general public were better educated (hah!) about what goes on in schools these days. Do you know why so many kids are ill prepared? Because it is very hard to fail them. Many schools have a minimum grade (60) you must give a student, even if they do nothing at all. I have never met a single teacher who approves of this policy.
Another big issue, in my opinion, is that we don't leave kids behind anymore. Some kids need it. And while I can see the argument that you don't want an older kid in a younger class, it doesn't solve the problem and makes things worse, because those kids who need remedial help keep getting pushed along. But remedial help costs too much money. Better to mainstream everyone and let the teacher figure it out.
Good schools require good teacher and good students and good parents and good communities. I wish more peope would recognize this. Until we do, many students and schools will continue to struggle.
R43 Every point you make is valid, but the parents are a big part of the problem too. Parents today (who practice "child worship") are absolutely convinced that their little bastard is a fucking genius -- even the slow kids! Every shit their "best friend" takes is extraordinary and demanding of praise not only from themselves, but society at latge , too. So what happens when Junior doesn't come home with an A+? Well, they'll straighten that out! In other words, they'll bitch and threaten to make it so. Never mind looking for areas where the little shit may need extra help and using it as an opportunity to address those shortfalls in his knowledge.
They need to get a grip and realize that most kids are AVERAGE -- and that means B's and C's. There are slow kids who rightfully should fail (though action should be taken to help them when that happens) and students who would rightfully earn the higher grades without the grade inflation, but the majority is average. Parents used to understand that and be OK with it.
Majority ARE average...
Teaching to the test is certainly a problem but as things are set up now, what choice do teachers have? Here in NYC and many other major cities, schools get shut down for low test performance. I hate the idea of charter schools but it seems that some cities (Philadelphia, Chicago) are deliberately dismantling the public school system.
I agree that many people aren't college material but these days, even an admin job requires a college education. 40 years ago, there were good jobs for high school dropouts ("strong back, weak mind"). That is not the case today. Nowadays, employers expect potential employees to come to them already trained.
As for the verbal and writing sections of the SAT, reading is the best way to acquire good reading and language skills. People don't read much anymore, sadly.
I have read these same statistics all of my adult life: orientals score highest followed by white, then Hispanic and finally black. Instead of asking why the blacks are always at the bottom, after 50 years of desegregation I believe the question is what are the orientals and whites doing that keeps them at the top.
Asian kids do well because that is the cultural expectation, regardless of the economic situation of the familiy. I think most white kids only do well by default, due to socio-economic considerations. Overall, that is a big factor in determinng student success (leaving aside the cultural expectations).
Even writing assignments are "teach to the test" these days. In many AP English classes, an insane amount of time is spent writing and rewriting thinly disguised college admissions essays, and they're all written to fit the formula the teachers know will score high.
A childhood friend is fairly high up at one of the major testing companies, and the last time we got together he told me about the automated essay reader they were just finishing (it's probably in use by now).
You scan the essay into the computer and it "reads" it and rates it. Obviously it doesn't have a clue about clarity or content, so what it looks at are things like sentence length, punctuation ("Use some semicolons, kids!"), and vocabulary choices--the more complex the better. An instruction manual for a Japanese DVD player could score higher than For Whom the Bell Tolls.
Ugh, that is scary, R49. The AP exams are another big money scam. Remember when you took one or two AP exams so you could get out of freshman comp or math? Now kids take 4-5 exams starting in their junior year! There's a marketing AP exam!
Asians are the only ones keeping the US' average IQ score above 60.
Fact: teachers are not worse people or dumber than Republican pantywaists. They have just as much desire to do well on their jobs as anybody else, and teachers' unions do not prevent that anymore than the players' union has made pro sports athletes into underachievers.
Fact: Teaching in America is all geared towards business, when it shouldn't be. It is business which is dragging us to third world status.
Change the curriculum, improve the schools. Charter schools are generally based on failed educational models that were tried and discarded 50-100 years ago. Religious schools have always been substandard.
Fact: to hear all the claims of rising test scores coming from Republicans' mouths, you would think education is fixed by now. But every international standard shows us falling further behind. Where test scores have improved, cheating has become rampant, making the results suspect. Yes, the STATE test scores have improved, but the only national improvements have come from making the tests easier or recentering them to hide the decline.
In the meantime, thousands of children every year are enrolled in charter schools which are SCAMS and which fail and do not teach at all. These people lose years out of their lives.
Moreover, the latest trend to to force public schools to give up money to pay unregulated private or online tutors, which is the biggest scandal of all since there is essentially NO curriculum for a private tutor and online tutorials are usually run by people with no teaching experience and vastly overpriced.
Fact: Republicans disparage Dems all the time about social engineering, but other than Obamacare, which GOP is trying to stop AGAIN, liberals have created no SCHEMES that affected so many people so badly as charter schools. As I said, I blame them for the increase in youth violence not just in Chicago but across the country. We have education schools which have done tons of research in how to improve schools. None of it was consulted in coming up with this harebrained failed Charter Schools scheme currently stinking up the national scene.
Arne Duncan by the way was a BASKETBALL player not an educator, and he was given money to start his school by an investment bank. He was utterly unqualified to be Secretary of Education, but typical of Obama's inability to evaluate talent.
Charter schools exist to weaken the teacher unions.
P.S. Charter schools can often choose their students. How many public schools get to do that?
"The most popular degree tracks — education (1442), psychology (1484) and business management and marketing (1661) fell further down the scale, though not as far as students planning to study construction or hoping to pursue careers in parks and recreation."
At what college is it now possible to study "construction" (as opposed to civil or mechanical engineering)? Or "parks and recreation"? Unless those terms are simply a mistake in the article, I think we need to start by redefining what the word "college" means.
R46 bring up an important point. There is pressure from administration for teachers to teach to the test and not fail students because test scores and improvements in test scores generate funding, along with attendance rates. Administrators and the federal government very much run schools like businesses which needs to be stopped.
[quote]At what college is it now possible to study "construction" (as opposed to civil or mechanical engineering)?
I think you would be surprised. Here's a link to one, and I remember reading some website about Big 10 football, and it had several players who were construction management majors.
1995 re-centering controversy
Certain educational organizations viewed the SAT re-centering initiative as an attempt to stave off international embarrassment in regard to continuously declining test scores, even among top students. As evidence, it was presented that the number of pupils who scored above 600 on the verbal portion of the test had fallen from a peak of 112,530 in 1972 to 73,080 in 1993, a 36% backslide, despite the fact that the total number of test-takers had risen over 500,000.
Anyone who's playing football at a Big 10 school is a textbook example of a guy who
a) will certainly depress the average SAT score, assuming he's even taken them, and
b) should not actually be in college. He probably shouldn't even have a high school degree based on his educational achievement.
Sad but so true.
Here is an excerpt from a longer article at the link.
Our schools are failing- they don't educate, just indoctrinate. They don't teach life skills, just test skills. They don't prepare for life, just for the next test.
No wonder more families are starting to homeschool instead of shipping them off to prison...I mean skool.
The results speak for themselves: Hundreds of thousands of kids drop out of public high school every year. Of those who do graduate from high school, almost a third are “not prepared academically for first-year college courses,” according to a 2013 report from the testing service ACT. The World Economic Forum ranks the US just 49th out of 148 developed and developing nations in quality of math and science instruction. “The fundamental basis of the system is fatally flawed,” says Linda Darling-Hammond, a professor of education at Stanford and founding director of the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future. “In 1970 the top three skills required by the Fortune 500 were the three Rs: reading, writing, and arithmetic. In 1999 the top three skills in demand were teamwork, problem-solving, and interpersonal skills. We need schools that are developing these skills.”
A lot of huffing and puffing over a statistically insignificant change.
r55, I went to a BigX school and the athletic department practically ran a school within a school for their players.
LOL 2G2BT! evs
But i'm sure they all have AMAZING self esteem.
I love the awesome irony of a test that both declares and is the cause of most kids being unprepared for college.
I wonder what percentage of children taking the SAT's nowadays are actual immigrants. And I don't mean a RACIAL thing, I mean people who were socialized in a non-American culture, because for sure cultural bias is particularly heavy in the reading comprehension part. I'll get it's a much bigger percent than anyone realizes.
Sounds like they're not even teaching test skills.
[quote]Nearly every job or career lists at least two years of college as a pre-req for employment, along with prior experience in the field (even if the field is food service).
And this is part of the problem with us. Why do most jobs require college? I've seen secretarial jobs posted that want college. WTF???
I think we should do the same thing other countries do. Steer kids towards something they have an aptitude for. Some of these kids would be better off in an apprenticeship program staring in high school or trade school.
They are teaching test skills R68, but not SAT test skills. The tests of competence states run are very different.
How can that figure be accurate when all incoming Freshman, based on their parents and their own opinions, claim they are all "above-average"?
They aren't that different, r70. I say that with some authority, as that's how I even got through junior and high school in the late 90s. I never did homework and barely paid attention in class, but I had great test skills so I stayed afloat pretty well. It doesn't much matter whether we're talking about an individual class/teacher's pop quiz or final or a state test or a the SAT/ACT or even watching Jeopardy -- you can do above average on all of them, with minimal actual knowledge of the material, if you are a good test-taker.
Being "smart" in today's New World Order will get you thrown on some "takedown" list.
This is proof, by the way, that the massive Republican social engineering projects like Charter Schools and No Child Left Behind have failed.
Government should stay out of the school system. I was in school from the late 70s till 1990. Twelve years. The govt.'started a series of school reforms in 1983 with a "A Nation At Risk". School was so good. But the reforms ruined it. Then later ever administration had to reform. "It Takes A Villiage",then "No child Left Behind", "Common Core". None of them have worked. Too much focus on standardized tests.
The reason secretarial jobs now require college is that a BA (or, at the very least, an AA) is equivalent to the old high school diploma. My dad who graduated from HS in 1940 had to take four years of Latin, science through physics, literature, art history, etc.. It was a Jesuit HS but not a prep school. You can get through HS now w/o much work so employers don't trust diplomas any longer.
r75, just so you know, Arne Duncan is the biggest supporter of charter schools and fully support NCLB when he was at CPS. So it's not purely Republican. At all.
"KEEP THE GOVERNMENT OUT OF MY SOCIAL SECURITY!!!!" - r76
It's the dumbing down of the US populace.
Charter schools, public schools, private schools, Common Core, college boards, SATs, ACTs, PSATs, Michelle Rhee, Diane Ravitch, Arne Duncan -- none of it matters unless you have GOOD PARENTS. And the lack of parental standards seems to me to track the fact that schools have become shitholes.
Privatizing schools maybe the only solution. Agree r81. If there is no discipline in the home the kids will bring that wayward behavior to school. Prayer, Pledge of alligiance and paddling should be back. Before you say I'm conservative, I'm the opposite. Black liberal. In private schools the children & will know they can't get away with drugs,gangs, violence. Schools went down when they tried to be the parent. Against having bitth conttol also. Sexual education is fine but not the dispensing of b/c
Privatizing schools is what was done and it was not the answer, it made it worse. The fact is that the public school is one of the main institutions holding otherwise devastated communities together. Public schools are the answer: well-funded by revenue transferred from rich districts; teachers with years of seniority and training; and the latest pedagogical methods developed in the public universities. That's the answer. All the rest is just Republican money-grubbing.
HS is awful. Teaches you no practical life skills like how to buy groceries or manage your money. Doesn't prepare enough kids for college. Look, the U.S. does not need theater majors, or English majors, or more social workers. We need engineers, computer programmers, chemists. We need to encourage creative thinking, to be sure, but no more lawyers or businessmen! We need to change the culture too; not everyone can be a General, we need more foot soldiers.
[quote]We need to change the culture too; not everyone can be a General, we need more foot soldiers
We need to return to being a nation where the foot soldiers are paid sufficiently to afford housing, food, and health care.
We need to sharply increase the taxes on capital gains while simultaneously restoring the buying power of the laboring class.
But we won't because our ruling class are greedy amoral pigs.
That's not true R84. We've never had more engineers and scientists than at present, but new patents adn new businesses are substantially down. Commmercial invention is not based on education. Never has been.
What we need in fact, is a stronger history tradition, so that our college graduates will make smarter voters.
That is our most pressing need.