ACT, SAT Scores Show Failure of Test-Driven K-12 Schools

Status: 
Archived
Subject: 
University Testing

FairTest Examiner, October 2012

Recently released ACT and SAT results for the high school class of 2012 provide additional evidence that No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and state high-stakes testing programs have not improved college readiness. Combined with results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, where gains have slowed since NCLB took effect the undergraduate admissions test results demonstrate that U.S. education is on the wrong track.

According to these exams, students are no better prepared for college than before NCLB went into effect. SAT averages have dropped 20 points since 2006. On the ACT, overall results have remained stagnant for the past five years. Gaps between Asian Americans and Whites on the one hand and African Americans and Latinos on the other have grown larger.
     
Proponents of NCLB and similar state-level testing programs promised that overall academic preparation would improve. At the same time, they claimed, score differences between racial groups would narrow. Precisely the opposite has taken place. So-called “reforms,” such as Race to the Top and NCLB waivers, increase the focus on test-scores in the nation’s public schools. In essence, they double down on a failing strategy. The likely result is more damage to school quality and educational equity.

Though college admissions tests are not very useful for forecasting an individual’s undergraduate performance – even the test-makers agree that high school grades are stronger predictors – overall average scores are one measure of preparation for higher education. For more details about this argument, see: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/what-do-sat-act-scores-really-mean/2012/09/24/33e341c0-0675-11e2-afff-d6c7f20a83bf_blog.html.

• The analysis of NAEP scores is at http://fairtest.org/sites/default/files/NAEP_results_main_and_long_term.pdf.
 

2012 COLLEGE BOUND SENIORS AVERAGE ACT SCORES
Approximately 1.66 million test takers
  COMPOSITE SCORE FIVE-YEAR SCORE TREND (2008 – 2012)
ALL TEST-TAKERS 21.1  0.0
Asian 23.6 +0.7
White 22.4 +0.3
African-American 17.0 +0.1
American Indian 18.4 -0.6
Hispanic 18.9 +0.2
source:  ACT, The Condition of College & Career Readiness 2012

         
 

2012 COLLEGE BOUND SENIORS SAT SCORES
-- with score changes from 2006*

  READING MATH WRITING TOTAL
ALL TEST-TAKERS 496 (- 7) 514 (- 4) 488 (-  9) 1498 (-20)
Female 493 (-  9)   499 (-  3) 494  (-  8) 1486 (- 20)
Male 498 (-  7) 532 (-  4) 481  (-10) 1511 (- 21)
Asian, Asian Amer. or Pacific Islander 518 (+ 8) 595 (+17) 528 (+16) 1641 (+41)
White 527 (   0) 536 (    0) 515 ( -  4) 1578 (-   4)
African American or Black 428 (-  6) 428 (-   1) 417 (- 11) 1273 (- 18)
Amer. Indian or Alaskan Native 482 (-  5) 489 (-   5) 462 (- 12) 1433 (- 22)
Mexican or Mexican American 448 ( - 6) 465 (    0) 443 (-   9) 1356 (- 15)
Puerto Rican 452 (-  7) 452 (-   4) 442 (-   6) 1346 (- 17)
Other Hispanic or Latino 447 (-11) 461 (-   2) 442 ( -  8) 1350 (- 21)

* High school graduates in the class of 2006 were the first to take the SAT “Writing” Test. The “No Child Left Behind” mandate to test every child in grades 3-8 and at least once in high school went into effect in the 2005-2006 academic year.

Calculated by FairTest from: College Board, College-Bound Seniors 2012: Total Group Profile Report and College-Bound Seniors 2006: Total Group Profile Report.