BoardBuzz has had our eye on the SAT story (results were released this morning) all day today — and it sure seems to be simmering. Our friends at the Center for Public Education have been weighing in all over the place.
Increased preparation of students, including those in lower-income areas, may be the reason, said Jim Hull, an analyst for the Center for Public Education, a nonprofit research organization in Alexandria, Virginia. In previous years, the SAT exam had spread to more schools with little expertise at test preparation, he said.
“All the efforts the schools have been putting in, with increases emphasis on getting all kids college ready, has started to pay off,” Hull said in a phone interview yesterday.
From Associated Press:
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.
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.
By comparison, the highest average reading score in recent decades was 530 by the class of 1972, although that score dropped dramatically within five years to near present levels. The latest math average is just five points below the 35-year high of 520, reached three years ago.
Those historical highs are tempered by the test’s more selective reach a generation ago, said Jim Hull, a policy analyst for the Center for Public Education, which is affiliated with the National School Boards Association.
“You only had the best of the best taking the test,” he said. “The SAT has become far more inclusive.”
From Education Week:
In line with previous graduating classes, gender gaps persisted on this year’s SAT. Despite narrowing score differences between men and women on some other standardized math exams in recent years, the mean math score on the SAT for men among this year’s graduating class was 533 out of a possible 800 points, 33 points higher than the mean score for women. That’s the smallest difference in years, but still substantial.
Female students continue to take the test in greater numbers than their male peers; in this year’s class, 54 percent of test-takers were female.
“There is certainly no clear explanation of why the male-female math gap has disappeared on most state tests but not on the SAT,” Jim Hull, the education policy analyst for the National School Boards Association in Alexandria, Va., said in an e-mail. “One reason that I heard is that a greater number of minority females than minority males take the SAT, which may suppress female scores. It also just may be because more females are going to college, so a greater variability of SAT/ACT [scores] is found for females.”
The Center is working on a full summary of the results, which BoardBuzz will share with you tomorrow. Enjoy!