Stagnant SAT & ACT Results, Growing College Prep. Score Gaps Show Failure of Test-and-Punish “School Reform"

Status: 
Archived
Subject: 
University Testing

FairTest Examiner, May 2011

Over the past several months, FairTest has published new reports, articles and fact sheets covering a range of testing issues, including the “school to prison pipeline,” racial justice issues, the 2010 SAT and ACT score releases, implications for NCLB of slowing gains and widening gaps on NAEP and SAT tests, better ways to evaluate schools, and multiple measures. Summaries and links follow. To stay up-to-date on new FairTest materials, check “

SAT and ACT college admissions exam results for the high school graduating class of 2010 show that test-and-punish school reform policies are leaving more children further behind, even when measured by scores from other standardized tests. The data contradict the claim that more high-takes testing will improve educational quality and equity in the nation’s public schools.

A chart prepared by FairTest shows overall SAT averages have actually declined since the “No Child Left Behind” (NCLB) federal testing mandates went into effect. At the same time, gaps between Whites and Asians, on the one hand, and historically disadvantaged minority groups, particularly African-Americans and Hispanics, grew larger. ACT admissions exam scores demonstrate comparable patterns. Scores from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) also indicate that educational progress has slowed in the NCLB era.

Proponents of NCLB and similar, state-level programs promised that overall achievement would improve while score gaps would narrow if high-stakes consequences were attached to test scores. Precisely the opposite has taken place. Policymakers will have to embrace very different policies if they are committed to real education reform.

Fortunately, more and more colleges have recognized the folly of fixating on the narrow, often biased, information provided by standardized tests and moved toward test-optional admissions. A frequently updated web database (http:www.fairtest.org/university/optional) lists more than 840 accredited, bachelor-degree granting institutions will make admissions decisions about all or many applicants without regard to SAT or ACT scores.

2010 COLLEGE BOUND SENIORS AVERAGE SAT SCORES with score changes from 2006* and 2010 COLLEGE BOUND SENIORS AVERAGE ACT SCORES