Thursday, August 11

More Than Half of High School Seniors Not Prepared For College For Sixth Year in a Row

A new report from the College Board reveals that the class of 2014’s average SAT scores were virtually the same as those of the past five classes, indicating that — yet again — too few of this year’s crop of seniors are ready for college.

To describe the current iteration of the SAT results, the College Board’s chief of assessment, Cyndie Schmeiser, said “Flat and stagnant would be the words that we would use.”

This year’s high school seniors averaged 497 in reading, 513 in math, and 487 in writing, resulting in a composite score of 1497. The class of 2013 had an average of 496, 514 and 488, respectively, and a composite score of 1498. There was a single point difference between the two classes’ composite scores.

According to Jacqui Byrne, a partner at Ivy Ed in New Jersey, “The new SAT is a big improvement, both in aligning with the Common Core and in forcing a shift in the way academic material is taught in high schools. The point of education is to prepare students to think independently, research their findings, and communicate their results and ideas. Any test that moves education toward those goals rather than trying to teach to standardized tests is better. The new essay, for example, is great because students have to learn how to analyze a text in order to do well. That is exactly what students need to be able to do for college anyway.”

These latest findings seem to support the College Board’s decision to change the SAT’s format, earlier this year. The test scores, the College Board says, show that American education has to be reinvigorated.

“For a long time, institutions like ours have been reporting that too many students aren’t ready for college and career workforce training,” said the College Board’s president and CEO David Coleman. “We at the College Board are transforming what we do to advance opportunity, including refocusing our assessments on what matters most and providing free supports for all students. Offering the same old test in the face of lasting problems is just not good enough.”

The redesigned SAT will hopefully level the playing field for students, aligning the test with the material students learn in school. To make things even more fair, College Board also allied with nonprofit, pro-education group Khan Academy to offer disadvantaged students test prep materials.

Of course, not all experts are as confident as the College Board. Mark Schneider, the American Institutes of Research’s vice president, expressed his skepticism of the College Board, saying that “They’re not making any causal claims, but they’re really coming close.”

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