SAT Gender and Racial Gaps Increase Misuse of Test Results Will Hurt College Diversity

for further information:
Bob Schaeffer (239) 395-6773
or Beth Beard (857) 350-8207

for use along with annual SAT score release, August 26, 2003

The growing gender gap and widening score differences between White test-takers and those from most underserved minority groups means that continued reliance on SAT scores will increasingly undermine many colleges’ efforts to promote diversity and academic quality, according to the National Center for Fair & Open Testing (FairTest).

“The SAT is not a level playing field,'” explained FairTest Public Education Director Bob Schaeffer. “The test-makers themselves admit that the SAT systematically underpredicts the performance of young women, who earn higher college grades than their male counterparts when matched for identical courses. Independent researchers have found that the SAT misevaluates students whose home language is not English. When colleges rely on flawed test results to admit students or award scholarships, they bar their doors to many otherwise-qualified candidates.”

The SAT gender gap increased by four points in 2003: boys now average 43 points higher than girls. Whites outscore African Americans on average by 206 points, a 3-point increase from 2002. The White-Mexican American gap is 158 points on the SAT scale, up one point.

FairTest also found that state-by-state SAT score trend data fail to support the claim that imposing high school graduation tests will improve the overall quality of public education. “In fact, SAT scores in Texas and Florida, states promoted as models for high-stakes testing, rose more slowly than the national average,” Schaeffer added. “If ‘test driven reform’ really worked, students from such states should have outperformed the nation, not fallen further behind.”

“If college officials are truly committed to campus diversity and opening the pipeline to higher education, while simultaneously enhancing academic excellence, they will join the growing list of institutions that have no admissions testing requirement and also oppose speak out against school graduation tests,” Schaeffer concluded.

Fact sheets documenting problems with the SAT as well as a list of hundreds of bachelor-degree granting colleges that do not require substantial numbers of applicants to submit test scores for admissions are available here. FairTest’s Supreme Court Amicus brief in the Michigan admissions cases, which documents many SAT flaws, is available at

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