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Uh oh...bad news on SAT test results

Teenagers who took the SAT test during the latest standardized testing season performed worse on the controversial test than they have in many years.

Students generated reading scores that were the lowest since the College Board began releasing annual reports in 1972; the math scores were the worst since 1999. The score for the writing section, which was launched in 2006, was the lowest ever.

Latest SAT test results

A perfect score for each of the test's three sections is 800. Here are the latest test results:

  • Critical reading: 495
  • Mathematics: 511
  • Writing: 484

Overall, the 2015 scores dropped a total of seven points, compared to a one-point drop last year and no change in 2013.

Taking a look at SAT composite scores shows a troubling trend of lower results among genders, as well as race and ethnicity, according to National Center for Fair and Open Testing, which is a nonprofit advocating against standardized testing. Since 2006, the average score for girls has dropped 27 points to 1,479 out of a possible 2,400 score. The average score for boys has dropped 30 points to 1,503.

American Indians/Alaskan natives and Mexicans/Mexican Americans have seen the largest drop in composite scores. The scores for American Indians and Alaskan natives shrank by 32 points to 1,423 while Mexicans/Mexican Americans have seen their test scores drop by 28 points to 1,343.

Since 2006, the score for white students has eroded by six points, bringing their average to 1,576. Average test scores for African American students (1,277) has dropped 14 points.

Asians are an exception

Asians, however, have bucked this downward score trend. Since 2006, Asian average scores have increased by 54 points to bring their average score to 1,654.

In another testing development, ProPublica released a report this week that concluded that Asians are nearly twice as likely to be charged a higher price for Princeton Review's online SAT tutoring. ProPublica dubbed it the "tiger mom tax." ProPublica's research determined that customers in areas with high density of Asians were 1.8 times as likely to be charged higher prices.

SAT and wealth

One of the biggest complaints against the SAT and ACT is that they are strongly correlated with income. The more affluent the family is, the more likely the students will perform better on these tests. The latest SAT results continue to show this trend remains.

Here is a chart from that shows the scores by income:


These test results come at a time when teenagers are stressing about the new SAT that will launch in March. The last time that the College Board made significant changes to the SAT was in 2005. Even if they would prefer to wait, some teenagers plan to take the old SAT because they are afraid of the new test. Students who want to prepare for either SAT test can do so for free through the College Board's partnership with the Khan Academy.

Test-optional schools

Standardized test scores can play a huge role in determining who gets admitted to schools, as well as who gets scholarships. An accelerated number of schools, however, are becoming test optional which has brought the number of these institutions to roughly 850. Over the past two years, such highly selective schools as Bryn Mawr College, Brandeis University, George Washington University and Wesleyan University have adopted test-optional policies.

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