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.
To get more reports like this one, click here to sign up for EdSource’s no-cost daily email on latest developments in education.