For the second consecutive year, SAT scores for the most recent high school graduating class remained at the lowest level in nearly a decade, according to results released Tuesday.
But the College Board, which owns the exam, attributes the lower averages of late to a more positive development: a broader array of students are taking the test, from more first-generation college students to a record number of students — nearly one in seven — whose family income qualifies them to take the test for free.
“More than ever, the SAT reflects the face of education in this country,” said Gaston Caperton, president of the College Board, which owns the test and released the results.
The class of 2008 scored an average of 515 out of a possible 800 points on the math section of the college entrance exam, a performance identical to graduating seniors in the previous year. (See SAT stats.)
Scores in the critical reading component among last spring’s high-school seniors also held steady at 502, but the decline over time has been more dramatic: The past two years represent the lowest reading average since 1994, when graduating seniors scored 499.
The SAT’s writing section has proven to be the most predictive section of the test for determining first-year college performance, as evidenced by recent studies by the College Board and independent studies by the University of California and the University of Georgia. The College Board analysis, which evaluated data from about 150,000 students at 110 four-year colleges and universities, also found the writing section to be the most predictive for all students and therefore across all racial/ethnic minority groups.
Of all three sections of the SAT, the writing section is the most predictive of students’ freshman year college performance for all students, demonstrating that writing is a critical skill and an excellent indicator of academic success in college.
The writing section is also the most predictive section for all racial/ethnic minority groups, which demonstrates that the SAT is a fair and valid test for all students.
Wisconsin’s 2008 graduates posted an average score of 604 points in mathematics on the SAT college admissions test, an increase of six points from last year and 89 points above the national mean score of 515. Along with solid SAT results, preliminary data on the College Board’s Advanced Placement program showed continued growth of the program in Wisconsin.
Wisconsin had 3,522 public and private school graduates who took the SAT during high school. They represent about 5 percent of the state’s graduates. Their critical reading score averaged 587, the same as last year; mathematics was 604, up six points from last year; and writing was 577, up two points. Nationally, 1.5 million graduates, about 45 percent of all graduates, took the SAT. The national overall mean scores were the same as in 2007: critical reading, 502; mathematics, 515; and writing, 494. On the ACT college admissions tests, more popular in Midwestern states, 67 percent of Wisconsin’s 2008 graduates took the exams. Their scores also were well above national averages.