WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN THE 2010 ACT & SAT SCORE REPORTS

for immediate release, Tuesday, August 17, 2010

WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN THIS MONTH’S ACT & SAT SCORE REPORTS

Average ACT and SAT scores for the high school class of 2010 will be released over the next two weeks. Typically, test-makers try to focus attention on small year-to-year changes, either marginally higher or lower, many of which have little practical meaning. Far more important are multi-year patterns, which provide a sense of overall direction. Here are four major issues the National Center for Fair & Open Testing (FairTest), the country’s leading assessment reform organization, will be tracking.

What do ACT/SAT score trends indicate about the effectiveness of “No Child Left Behind” in enhancing college readiness? Students in the high school class of 2010 were in fourth grade when the controversial federal testing mandate became law. Proponents promised significant gains in educational performance from NCLB’s test-and-punish approach. Do admissions exam averages over the past decade support that claim?

Has “No Child Left Behind” narrowed racial and income “achievement gaps” in college readiness?  Do admissions tests score trends show the reduction of historic score differences between demographic groups promised by NCLB proponents? Similarly, has NCLB reduced the strong correlation between admissions test scores and family income?

Did the ACT overtake the SAT as the nation’s most popular college admissions exam?  Since the introduction of a “new,” longer and more expensive SAT in 2005, the number of students taking the ACT has risen rapidly while SAT volume has remained nearly stagnant (comparison table available on request from FairTest). In the high school class of 2009, nearly 97% as many students took the ACT as the SAT. Will 2010 be the year the ACT – a different test, not a better one – overtakes the SAT in popularity?

Will ACT/SAT controversies lead more schools to drop their admissions testing requirements? Since 2005, more than 65 colleges and universities, including dozens of nationally competitive schools, have adopted “test-optional” policies (chronology available on request from FairTest). That brings the total number of accredited, bachelor-degree granting institutions which do not require all or many applicants to submit test scores for admissions to more than 840 (see http://www.fairtest.org/university/optional).

Look for charts summarizing major score data and trends, as well as news releases addressing the questions listed above, at http://www.fairtest.org once ACT and SAT results are public.

Please feel free to call me (239 395-6773) at any time to discuss these or related testing issues.