FERMIN LEAL/EDSOURCE TODAY
A record number of students from different backgrounds are now taking the SAT.

SAT scores for California’s college-bound seniors fell slightly this year, while the number of test-takers reached a record level, new figures reveal.

California’s graduating class of 2015 earned an average SAT score of 1,492 (495 in critical reading, 506 in math and 491 in writing) out of a possible 2,400, according to the College Board, the test’s publisher.

Meanwhile, 241,553 students, or 60.4 percent, from the class of 2015 took the SAT, the highest number ever.

Students from the class of 2014 earned an average score of 1,504 (498 in critical reading, 510 in math and 496 in writing), while 236,923 students, or 60.3 percent, took the SAT.

Nationally, students from the class of 2015 earned an average score of 1,490 (495 in critical reading, 511 in math and 484 in writing.) About 1.7 million students took the SAT, also a record number.

In California, 45.9 percent of test-takers from the class of 2015 came from underrepresented groups, including Latino and African-American students. That’s also a record number, up from 44.1 percent in 2014.

About 41 percent of all test-takers reached the SAT benchmark score of 1,550, meaning they have a high probability of earning a grade point average of a B-minus or higher in their first year of college, according to the College Board. About 42 percent of students from the class of 2014 reached the benchmark score of 1,550.

Underrepresented students scored significantly lower on the SAT than their peers. About 21 percent of African-American students and 20 percent of Latino students hit the benchmark score of 1550.

“This year’s report shows that participation is expanding because, despite growing concern over testing, assessments linked to opportunities are reaching more students than ever,” said College Board President David Coleman.

In addition to the SAT scores, the College Board released Advanced Placement exam figures for 2015 that also show a record number of participants.

In California, 370,016 students took an AP Exam in 2015, up from 352,519 in 2014. About 63 percent of test-takers earned a score of 3 or higher, considered the minimum for college credit. That rate has remained relatively unchanged since 2011.

College Board President David Coleman said a growing number of resources have made the SAT and AP exams available to a wider range of students.

“This year’s report shows that participation is expanding because, despite growing concern over testing, assessments linked to opportunities are reaching more students than ever,” he said.

Coleman pointed to the higher rate of school districts nationally that offer SAT testing during the normal school day, typically at no cost, instead of only on Saturdays, and a greater number of scholarships available to needy students for test preparation services, for helping funnel a more diverse population to the SAT.

Expanding access is the first step towards expanding opportunity, he said.

Still, Coleman said “stagnant” SAT scores show there’s still much work to do.

These are the last scores for the current version of the SAT. The exam is undergoing a remake that test administrators say will better reflect the skills students need to succeed in college. The new test will require more analysis of texts, asking students to interpret meaning and demonstrate their answers. The math section will focus on problem solving, data analysis, and algebra skills including linear equations. It was designed to be more closely aligned with the Common Core State Standards, and to reflect the skills and knowledge that are essential for college and career success, officials said.  The new SAT will debut in the spring.

 

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  1. Manuel 2 years ago2 years ago

    At least EdSource did not choose to follow the lead of the Washington Post, which used the headline "SAT scores at lowest level in 10 years, fueling worries about high schools" and went on to breathlessly report that "scores on the SAT have sunk to the lowest level since the college admission test was overhauled in 2005, adding to worries about student performance in the nation's high schools." Well. Let's look at the numbers, shall we? … Read More

    At least EdSource did not choose to follow the lead of the Washington Post, which used the headline “SAT scores at lowest level in 10 years, fueling worries about high schools” and went on to breathlessly report that “scores on the SAT have sunk to the lowest level since the college admission test was overhauled in 2005, adding to worries about student performance in the nation’s high schools.”

    Well.

    Let’s look at the numbers, shall we? The lowest score in the SAT is 600 and the maximum is 2400, making 1,500 the mid-point. Since the SAT is a bell curve, that makes the mid-point also the theoretical mean. Elsewhere one can find that the standard deviation is 330. The College Board reports that the average in 2015 is 1490, a difference of 10 points from the theoretical value and 3% of the standard deviation.

    How can the Washington Post claim that the sky is falling?

    Like I said, at least Mr. Leal recognizes that these results are not bad at all since a large number of California’s students are, on the basis of the SAT, “eligible” for college admission consideration.

    Now, where are those seats they need at CSU and UC if they are offered admission? (Yes, it was just reported that there are more out-of-state students at UC.) More importantly, will they be able to afford it if they do enroll?

  2. Gary Ravani 2 years ago2 years ago

    Falling average scores while increasing the demographic reach of the SAT is likely an example of "Simpson's Paradox," where scores for the traditional groups of test takers remain the same or even go up, but the average is down because the SES of new test takers affects the "average" scores." The "Simpson's" phenomenon was primarily responsible for a decline in average SAT scores during the late 1960s when the impacts of the civil rights movement … Read More

    Falling average scores while increasing the demographic reach of the SAT is likely an example of “Simpson’s Paradox,” where scores for the traditional groups of test takers remain the same or even go up, but the average is down because the SES of new test takers affects the “average” scores.”

    The “Simpson’s” phenomenon was primarily responsible for a decline in average SAT scores during the late 1960s when the impacts of the civil rights movement brought more and more disadvantaged students into the testing pool. The pseudo-decline caused a major “crisis in the schools panic,” ginned up by politicians and the media, of the time. This “crisis” was a impetus to the infamous “A Nation At Risk” report that was later debunked by the Sandia Study, commissioned by the HW Bush Administration. The Administration went to some lengths to suppress Sandia, but that was also the age of early Xerox machines, and the study was leaked and published. Needless to say, since Sandia didn’t “bleed” it didn’t “lead,” so much of what was demonstrated never made to into the public consciousness. The “crisis in the schools” narrative is just too rich for editorialists and pundits to give up.

    Interesting the CA averages for the ACT were up. Doubtless this reflects the testing requirements of some universities where wealthier students tend to apply.

    As Coleman notes, more and more universities are declining to use any of the (ACT/SAT) test scores and/or are making them optional.

    Replies

    • FloydThursby1941 2 years ago2 years ago

      You need a neutral measure of human goodness. We should have a test which shows how much science and social studies kids now as well. A good, diigent, moral student who rejects TV and relaxation in favor of study will know there are 100 Senators, 50 states, Lincoln was President from 1861-1865, etc. Grades can be biased because if you go to a bad school, the average GPA is probably a 3.00, … Read More

      You need a neutral measure of human goodness. We should have a test which shows how much science and social studies kids now as well. A good, diigent, moral student who rejects TV and relaxation in favor of study will know there are 100 Senators, 50 states, Lincoln was President from 1861-1865, etc. Grades can be biased because if you go to a bad school, the average GPA is probably a 3.00, same as a good school. Lowell in SF takes the top 5 of each 33, or about 15% of students, 29% come from private schools, but most private school applicants are rejected as well. So the average kid at Lowell gets a 3.00 and the average elsewhere a 3.00, but every Lowell kid proved they were academically superior to the others, so a kid who may get a 2.5 at Lowell would get a 3.6 elsewhere. However, on the SAT and state tests, you clearly can see the average Lowell student is far superior to the average at nearly any other school. This is true around the state, from Orange County to East or South Central LA, from Marin to Richmond, from Palo Alto to East Palo Alto and from San Ramon to Hayward. It isn’t always about money, for instance Orinda is richer than San Ramon, with Orinda being whiter and San Ramon more Asian, but San Ramon wins. It’s about diligence. We all know studying more hours raises both GPA and SATs. Studying on Saturdays. Divorcing drastically lowers your kids’ SATs, as does having a kid out of wedlock. Teaching your kids before starting kindergarten raises SATs and GPAs. Telling your kids not to work too hard lowers them.

      I say if you asked me to bet on success, I’d want to know GPA and where they got it and what classes and how many APs they took. If you gave me a choice of SAT vs. GPA, I’d take SAT to bet on a kid’s success. The average 2.5 kid at Lowell will far outperform in college and life/income the average 3.5 kid at a private or suburban or alternative SF high school, not even close. However, the average 2.5 kid Lowell will show a higher SAT than a kid with a 3.5 at SI ro Lincoln or a suburban school. Hence SAT provides truth and GPA merely misleads us.