The College Board reports that 2007 average scores on the SAT I exams dipped slightly, bringing them to the lowest level in 13 years. That’s the bad news.
The good news is that a large part of the reason for this decline is the increase in the number of test takers, including some students who never considered themselves college-bound.
The declines for the class of 2007 were not caused by a single factor, College Board officials said. But the increase in the number of traditionally underrepresented minority and low-income students taking the test played a role, they said. So did a new requirement in Maine that all high school seniors take the exam, including those who would not in the past have viewed themselves as college bound.
Gaston Caperton, the president of the College Board, said in a news conference, â€œThe larger the population you get that takes the exam, it obviously knocks down the scores.â€
Wayne Camara, vice president for research and analysis at the College Board, described the declines from 2006 to 2007 as statistically insignificant.
The officials trumpeted the size of the group that took the SAT â€” nearly 1.5 million seniors â€” and the expanded diversity of the test-takers. Hispanic, black and Asian-American students accounted for 39 percent of the seniors who took the test, representing the largest proportion of minority test-takers since the SAT was introduced in 1926. In all, 35 percent of those taking the exam would be the first in their family to attend college.
So that’s the good news.
The bad news is that with more students taking the SAT, the tougher the competition will be for those kids in the middle of the pack to land spots in some colleges. With the number of admissions slots relatively finite, a greater number of applicants means greater competition for those slots.
The fact that more kids are taking the SAT won’t affect the competition at the higher end of the scale at the more selective colleges. But the further down the selectivity curve, the greater the competition for college admission may become.
So demographics and a greater emphasis on creating a college-going culture in many public schools may put actually be bad news for some kids.
Montgomery Educational Consulting