(MoneyWatch) The latest SAT test figures released today by the College Board suggest that most freshmen aren't academically prepared for college.
High school seniors who graduated earlier this year generated the exact same scores as last year's crop of test takers. The latest results continue a pattern of stagnating test scores that educators have lamented for years.
The 2013 figures suggest that only 43 percent of SAT takers among this year's freshmen are ready for the academic rigors of college studies.
The average high school senior earned a 496 on the critical reading portion of the test and a 514 on the math section (The highest score possible for each of these sections is 800). Students fared the worst in the writing section, with an average score of 488. While the average composite score of 1498 out of a possible 2400 is
identical with last year's result, it's 20 points lower than in 2006,
when the SAT writing section was introduced.
Who is ready for college
Students who earn a 1550 on the test, according to the SAT College and Career Readiness Benchmark, have a 65 percent probability of earning a first-year GPA of a B minus or higher. Most of the students who meet the readiness benchmark (78 percent) are enrolled in four-year institutions.
David Coleman, the College Board's president, said the latest batch of stagnant scores represents a "call to action."
"We must dramatically increase the number of students in K-12 who are prepared for college and careers," he said in a statement. "Only by transforming the daily work that students do can we achieve excellence and equity."
That's easier said than done. FairTest.org, which is an opponent of the SAT and state-level programs that focus on K-12 testing, compiled this chart showing how much SAT scores have slipped since 2006:
Students planning to major in some of the liberal arts and sciences performed significantly better than many who are aiming at more vocationally oriented degrees. Students wishing to major in multi/interdisciplinary studies earned the highest combined SAT score (1757), followed by the physical sciences (1673), English language and literature (1665), and social sciences (1661).
Significantly lagging behind were students hoping to major in three of the most popular fields -- education (1442), psychology (1484), and business management and marketing (1497). Some of the lowest scores came from students wanting to major in parks and recreation (1328) and construction trades (1274).