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2010 COLLEGE-BOUND SENIORS: SAT Scores Show Little to No Progress

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“Engaging students with more rigorous course work and demanding higher standards are critical in providing America’s students with an education that will prepare them to compete in the twenty-first-century economy.”

Average national SAT scores for the high school Class of 2010 remained virtually unchanged compared to last year, according to a new report from the College Board. The critical reading average stayed at 501, the math average increased by 1 point to 516, and the writing average decreased by one point to 492. Each section of the SAT is scored on a scale of 200 to 800 points.

2010 College-Bound Seniors: Total Group Profile Report shows that over the past ten years, the average scores in reading and math have fluctuated slightly with a decline and/or stagnation in scores starting in 2005. Writing scores have moderately declined since 2006, when writing scores were first reported for college-bound seniors.

In total, 1.59 million students in the Class of 2010 took the test, which, according to the College Board, is more students than in any other graduating class in history. Minority students now compromise 42 percent of SAT takers, up from 40 percent in 2009 and 28.6 percent in 2000.

However, the score breakdown by ethnicity shows that Hispanic and black students are still trailing their white and Asian peers. In reading, white students scored an average of 528 and Asian students scored an average of 519, while black students scored an average of 429 and Mexican, Puerto Rican, and other Hispanic students scored an average of 454. In math and writing, Asian students had the highest average scores (591 and 521) while black students had the lowest average scores (428 and 420).

Historically, male students have performed modestly better than female students in reading and significantly better in math. This year, males outscored females by 5 points in reading and by 34 points in math. In writing, females continue to score higher than males with an advantage this year of 12 points.

Another trend that has persisted throughout the years is the link between reported family income and SAT scores. Across all three SAT subject areas, students from higher-income families performed better than students from lower-income families. This trend was present at every point on family income scale that ranged from $0-$20,000 to more than $200,000. Similarly, students performed increasingly better on the SAT as their parents’ level of educational attainment increases. Students whose parents did not graduate from high school scored on average a 422 in reading, a 446 in math, and a 419 in writing, while students whose parents received a bachelor’s degree, scored on average 99, 90, and 93 points higher respectively in those subjects.

The report finds that students who reported taking a core curriculum—defined as four or more years of English, three or more years of mathematics, three or more years of natural science, and three or more years of social studies or history—scored 151 points higher than those who did not. Additionally, students taking rigorous classes, such as honors or Advanced Placement courses, performed better on the SAT than those who did not.

“Engaging students with more rigorous course work and demanding higher standards are critical in providing America’s students with an education that will prepare them to compete in the twenty-first-century economy,” said College Board President Gaston Caperton. “This report confirms that there are no tricks and no shortcuts to college readiness. Students who take more rigorous courses in high school are more prepared to succeed in college and beyond.”

The College Board points out that it has been a partner in the Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI), a state-led effort to establish a single set of clear educational standards for K–12 English language arts and mathematics. The standards are designed to ensure that students graduating from high school are prepared to go to college or enter the workforce. Currently, thirty-seven states have adopted the standards.

“It is critical that all students—especially those traditionally underrepresented in higher education—have access to curriculum that best prepares them for college,” said Laurence Bunin, senior vice president of the College Board’s College Connection and Success System. “That is why the College Board has worked so closely on the Common Core State Standards Initiative and why we have expanded our fee-waiver program. Every student in America should have access to a world-class education that will prepare them to compete in a global economy.”

The College Board provides SAT fee waivers to low-income students; one out of every five students in the 2010 SAT-taking class utilized these services.

2010 College-Bound Seniors: Total Group Profile Report includes results from students in the Class of 2010 who took the SAT through March 2010. To read the full national report or individual state summaries, visit
http://professionals.collegeboard.com/data-reports-research/sat/cb-seniors-2010.

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