Standardized Educational Test Scores

Congressional Research Service The Library sf Congress Washington, D.C. 20540 STANDARDIZED EDUCATIONAL TEST SCORES IP0294S The Congressional Research Service receives numerous requests for information concerning standardized educational test scores of specific States and local communities. Standardized test scores typically are compiled only by the schools or school districts that administer the exams; in general, they can be obtained only by contacting school officials in each locality. Of increasing concern are the nationwide average scores on both the American College Test (ACT) and the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT). This Info Pack provides basic information and background on standardized educational tests. Statistical material is included to reflect the most recent results of those who have taken these tests who intend to go to college. Additional information on this subject, primarily in newspapers and periodicals, may be found in a local library through the use of indexes such as the Education Index, Public Affairs Information Service (PAIS), Readers' Guide to Periodical Literature, and the New York Times Index. Members of Congress who want additional information may contact CRS at 287-5700. We hope this information is useful. Congressional Reference Division Congressional Research Service The Library of Congress Washington, D.C. 20540 STANDARDIZED EDUCATIONAL TEST SCORES The Congressional Research Service receives numerous requests for standardized educational test scores of specific States and local communities. With one exception, we are unable to provide such data. Standardized test scores typically are compiled only by the schools or school districts that administer the exams; in general, they can be obtained only by contacting school officials in each locality. While some school officials regularly pro- vide test score data to the public (sometimes local newspapers publish them), others regard the scores as confidential and not for release. Where scores are available, normally school officials provide only averages or other group measures; they do not divulge scores of individual students except to parents or guardians. At the present time, 44 States and the Districts of Columbia have some kind of statewide testing program in which all or most public school students in certain grades normally participate. attached.) (A list of these programs is In some States, students must attain at least a specified minimum score in order to be promoted or to graduate; in others, student scores are used only to diagnose strengths and weaknesses. While a number of States have developed their own tests for these assessments, reflecting their own priorities and curricula, others use one of several widely-administered exams such as the California Achievement Test or the Iowa Test of Basic Skills. Informa- tion about these tests can be obtained by writing to State departments of education. (The names and addresses of these agencies are attached.) In the United States, students applying to college frequently are asked to take either the American College Test (ACT), sponsored and administered by the American College Testing Program of Iowa City, Iowa, or the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) sponsored by the College Entrance Examination Board of New York City and administered by the Educational Testing Service of Princeton, New Jersey. The national mean (that is, average) scores for these exams are released annually. (Attached are tables showing the respective national means for the ACT since the 1969-1970 testing year and for the SAT since the 1951-1952 testing year.) Recently, Educational Testing Service has begun releasing State mean SAT scores. (A copy of the latter for the 1982-83 testing year is attached.) To obtain State mean ACT scores, one must contact the appropriate State department of education. To obtain school district or individual school mean ACT or SAT scores, one must contact local school officials. Local district or indi- vidual school scores are not always available. It is not clear what inferences, if any, can legitimately be drawn from the State SAT score means. The proportion of high school seniors taking the SAT or ACT varies so much from State to State (as does the proportion of children completing high school) that comparisons among States may be deceptive. For similar reasons, comparisons of ACT or SAT scores among school districts or individual schools may be misleading. Care must also be taken in drawing inferences from State SAT score means about variations in the quality of education among the States. The SAT is designed to measure aptitude for college study, not to measure academic achievement; it aims to predict who will do well in college, not to identify who has learned the most in elementary and secondary school. By itself, the SAT should not be considered a good indicator of the quality of previous schooling. (Standardized achievement tests in various academic subjects are also sponsored by the College Entrance Examination Board and administered by the Educational Testing Service. While these exams do measure the quality of academic preparation, they are taken by relatively few students who are not representative of college applicants, let alone of high school seniors in general. ) One nationally administered examination that can be used to help assess the quality of American elementary and secondary education is the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), a congressionally authorized series of tests for 9-year olds, 13-year olds, 17-year olds, and young adults in reading, mathematics, science, social studies, writing, and other subjects. Test results are available for a number of different student characteristics such as sex, race, parents' education, and type and size of community; they also are available both for the country as a whole and for four regional divisions. NAEP results are not available by State, school district, or individual school. (Attached is a paper summarizing trends in NAEP results in reading, science, and mathematics.) Further information about the results of NAEP tests may be obtained by writing the National Assessment of Educational Progress, P.0. Box 2923, Princeton, New Jersey, 08541. March 1, 1984 Congressional Research Sew ice The Library of Congress Washington, D.C. 20540 AMERICAN COLLEGE TEST (ACT) AND SCHOLASTIC APTITUDE TEST (SAT) NATIONAL MEAN SCORES Table 1 on the next page shows the estimated national mean (average) scores on the American College Test (ACT), a four-part multiple-choice exam designed to measure academic abilities students will need in postsecondary education. Students are measured in each part on the basis of the number of answers they get correct on scales of 1 to 33 (English), 1 to 36 (mathematical), 1 to 34 (social studies), and 1 to 35 (natural sciences); they also receive a composite score on a scale of 1 to 35. Candidates with high scores, such as 25, are generally considered to be more likely to have academic success in college than are candidates with low scores, such as 12. College offi- cials use test results not only for deciding who should be admitted but also for guidance and placement. The ACT is one of several postsecondary assessment exams sponsored and administered by the American College Testing Program, a private nonprofit organization. Table 1 American College Test Score National Means 1969-1970 to 1982-83 Academic year - English 1/ Source: cent sample. Math Social S tudies National Sciences Composite American College Testing Program, based upon a 10 per- Table 2 on the next page shows the national mean (average) scores on the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), a two-part examination designed to measure aptitude for college study. It consists of a verbal section and a mathematical sec- tion, each of which has multiple choice questions that test a variety of intellectual abilities. Candidates are measured on the basis of the number of answers they get correct (though to discourage guessing, a fraction of the number of incorrect answers is subtracted from the number that are correct), and are given a score for each section on a scale of 200 to 800. Candidates with high scores, such as 700, are generally considered to have greater aptitude for college work than candidates with low scores, such as 400. Test results are used by college officials primarily to help them decide who should be admitted. They also are used for placement and guidance. The SAT is one of several postsecondary education admissions tests sponsored by the College Entrance Examination Board, a private, nonprofit association. The Educational Testing Service has responsibility for preparing, administering, and scoring the SAT. TABLE 2 . Academic Year Scholastic Aptitude Test Score National Means 1_/ 1951-1952 to 1982-1983 SAT Verbal High School 2/ All Candidates Seniors - SAT Mathematical High School All Candidates Seniors 21 -- 11 - Source: -- - p p Educational Testing Service. 2 1 These scores are not available until the 1966-67 academic year. scores for 1966-67 through 1970-71 are estimates. March 1, 1984 EDUCATION DAILY January 5 , 1 9 8 4 p p . 5-8 D a t a File State Use Of Barlc Skllls Testa, 1083 Alabama Alaska - A n 8 8 To8td arrckr Inltlrtod Mlnlmum Sklllr Alabama Basic Skills Test Language Arts & Math Reading 3,689 3&6 1981 YES California Achievement Test Language Arts & Reading English & History Math & Science 14 7-12 1-12 I948 NO Reading & Math 4&H 1978 Alaska Statewide Assessment Program (Biennial-objective referenced) American Samoa Cumculum Referenced Tests in I Arizona Arizona Basic Skills Program California Achievement Test Arkansas 8 T y p ot To8l Stab - Arkansas Minimum Performance Test + lish, Social Studies, Science & Math Being Drveluped. Language Arts & Reading English Math Reading English Math Language Arts English Math Scholastic Research Associates (Not mandatory) California California Test of Basic Skills Language Arts English Reading Math Connecticut Connecticut Assessment of Educational Progress Language Arts, Reading, Social Studies, Art, Music, Math & Science Reading, Language Arts & Math Education Evaluation & Remedia Assistance Proficiency Exam - -- - California Achievement Test Language Arts & Reading English Math Assessment for Minimal Performance Requirements Reading, Writing & Math Comprehensive Test of Basic Ski Reading, Math, Language Arts, Reference Skills, Science & Socia Studies Criterion Referenced Reading & Science Math English Florida State Student Achievement Test Language Arts & Reading English Math Georgia Iowa Test of Basic Skills Language Arts Reading & Math 4th & 8th Grade Criterion Referenced Tests [ 10th grade if local education agencies (LEAS)desire1 Reading & Math Delaware District of Columbia Usually beforc entrance into high school (graduation reauirement) 6 1 9 8 4 C a p i t a l P u b l i c a t i o n s , I n c . Reproduced by t h e L i b r a r y of Congress, C o n g r e s s i o n a l Research S e r v i c e w i t h p e r m i s s i o n of t h e c o p y r i g h t c l a i m a n t . 8 Date Initlrtod State L a n p g e Arts Reading Social Studies & Science Math Guam u 8 . d F a Mlnlmum Skllk 1983 NO Fall 1981 YES English Criterion Referenced (locally developed) Hawaii State Test of Essential Competencies Hawaii Language Arts & Reading Science History Social Studies, Art & Music Math Foreign Languages Competency-Bad Measures Language Arts, Reading, History, Social Studies, Art, Music, Math d Science Scholastic Aptitude Test, Otis-Lennon Mental Ability Test & Differential Aptitude Tests Language Arts & Reading Math English History Foreign Languages *IdahoProficiency Test (Testing Voluntarv 7540% wrtici~ate) Reading, Writing, Composition & Spelling I Idaho Essential Skills Assessment Projec Reading (Pilot project) Indiana I Educational Improvement Progral Language Arts Readinn ~n~list Social Studies, Math & Science Kansas Minimum Competency Reading & Math Reading English Math Louisiina Louisiana Basic Skills TesHng Language Arts, Reading & Math Lan urge Arts & Reading ~ n g f s h& Math Social Studies & Science Maryland Massachusetts I I California Achievement Test English & Math Competency-based Prerequisites English & Math Social Studies ICitizenshid Massachusetts Basic Skills Language Arts English Math Reading, Math, Social Studies, Program (Random Sample Testins Science, Music, Art & Health Minnesota State Assessment Language Arts, Reading, Social Studies, Art, Music Math & Science Historv NO Sample of lOtl grade student YES YES YES NO YES NO YES YES NO - Typr ol Twt Califomla Achievement Test Q8C Mlssbslppi I I I Montana Nebnska Nevada I I I Anr8 Tmt8d Miuoud Essential Skills Test Language Arb Rerding & Math History & English English, Social Studirr & Math Test of Achievement and ProAdency English, History, Social Studies, Math & Science I n agr Arts ~earng English & History Social Studies, Art, Music, Math & Science Montana Testing Service (&ttery of tests offered-LEA participation voluntary) Nebnska Assessment (Batterv of Learning I i l l c L E A reauests tests) Nevada Proficiency Exam English & Math NO Missouri Assessment ] I Language Arts, Reading & Math Periodic Assessments Language Arts & Reading Histo , Social Studio & Math ~ng1i.X New Jersey New Mexico Minimum Basic Skills Test New Mexico High School Proficiency Exam Writing, Reading & Math English, Social Studies k Math I II I North Carolina Regenb Competency in Writing WriHng Test for Elementary Schools Degrees of Reading Power I 1 YES WdHng 11 YES WriHng 5 YES Reading 3,6,8or9&1 English & Math 11 YES YES Reading 1&2 YES l&2 YES 1 English 'Reading Math 9 36116 3,6&9 Scholastic Research Asaociatea California Achievement Test Northern b h n a Islands Publisher of Textbook Program T a t I Competency-baaed Test NO 8 or 9 Dkppoatic Mathematics Inventory h t h California Achivement Test YES YES YES WriHng I NO YES NO any year 9-12 I Preliminary Competency Test in Writing ( Prescriptive Reading Inventory Ohio I Comprehensive Test of &sic Skills Language Arb & Reading History, Sodrl Studies, Math & Mencc English Math Math Competency North Carolina Competency Test ( I YES NO New tirmpshire New York I8 - 9 & 12 I Stanford Achievement Test I " Qmdm 4&6 4.618 8 YES Social Studia & Science I2&,Y Arts I Ohio T a t of Scholastic Achievement (LEASrequired to test) YES YES NO gub).ct Areas T a t d Readingwriting 61 Math Language Arts & Reading 0I.d.r 7& 1 1 U d For D.1. Mlnlmum wtl8t.d (Wrlllr 1 1978 & 1982 I YES Writing, Histon, Stwial Studies. Art, Music, Math & Science Reading -- - Mathematics Basic Skills Test Math Spanish Basic Skills Test Spanish English Basic Skills Test English Rhode Island lowa Test of Basic Skills language Arts Reading. Math & Study Skills English Rhode island Life Skills Test Enelish. Math & Reading South Carolina Comprehensive Test of Basic Skills Language Arts & Reading Social Studies, Math & Science English Basic Skills Assessment Test Writing Reading Math ~ u g n o s t i crests Math, Spelling, Language Arts & Reading Language Am, Reading & Math Puerto Rico Tennes* I Proficiency Exams k r Graduation 1 l Y Es YES 10 4 1 1976 11973 I I NO YES allowed in Reading Comwsition & Math 3,5&9 Reading, Math, Science & History 5 & 11 1975 NO Local Test (Must conform to criteria of competency; status of all graduating students must be reported; state does random sampling) Language Arts & Reading English Math & Science 1-6 7-12 1-12 1977 YES Minimum Competency Test Math & Reading Scholastic Research Associates Language Arts Reading, Social Studies, Math & Science English Basic Skills (Criterion Referenced Tests) Language Arts, Reading & Math California Achievement Test Language Arts & Reading Math English Basic Skills Forms A great variety of other measures as part of the state assessment 0rOPram. -- - Vermont Washington Degrees of Reading Power (One time studv-samde) West Virginia Wisconsin Comprehensive Test of Basic Skill Language A m Reading, History. Social Studies, Math & Science English I Legislation requires testing in 198586; tests being developed. Source: Council of Chief State School Officefs, Humanltles a d State Educallon Agencle& POllcler, p.n#ctim a d IPQ294S EDUCATION DAILY September 2 2 , 1983 p. 6 - D a t a File HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATES, COLLEGE-BOUND SENIORS, 1981 AND MEAN SAT SCORES, 1983 State Alabama Alaska Arizona Arkansas California Colorado Connecticut Delaware Florida Georgia Hawaii Idaho Illinois Indiana Iowa Kansas Kentucky Louisiana Maine Maryland Massachusetts Michigan Minnesota Mlssissippi Missouri Montana Nebraska Nevada New Hampshire New Jersey New Mexico New York North Carolina North Dakota Ohio Oklahoma Oregon Pennsylvania Rhode Island South Carolina South Dakota Tennessee Texas Utah Vermont Virginia Washington West Virginia Wisconsin Wyoming Hlgh School* Qraduates C d k Sonlon g ~ ~ K Qredurtes Taking SAT - SAT ScoressVerbal Math WASHINGTON POST January 29, 1984 pp. Dl,D2 SATs Are Gettii in the Way of Education - Who cares about high scores? The question ix Have they learned an*? By Dan Morgan Q UESTION: The Scholastic Aptitude Teat (SAT) i8: 0 A clever device used by the educational establishment to avoid its responsibilities. E l A hurdle of much-exaggerated importance for high school seniors trying to get into college. C One symbol of what's wrong with high school education in America. The SAT itself does not allow an answer ot "all of the above," but in this case, that is the Wrrect answer. The declining status and significance of this test is one sign that the hide.bound American secondary educational system is at last undergoing some significant changes. Old institutions die slowly, and the SAT still has a powerful mystique. It remains a tense rite of pasage for nearly half of all high Uatt Morgan is an editor of Outlook. @ 1984 school seniors. Yesterday, some 267,000 filed nervously into classroods and auditoriums around the country to agonize over its multiple choice questions about vocabulary, grammer and math. Yet there is a growing belief among educatom, that the SAT is an outmoded educational instrument that is sending the wrong message, or a t least an incomplete one, to the nation's high schools. In the 58 years of its exiqtence, its creators have yet to define satisfactorily what, exactly, the SAT tests. It comes too late in high school careers to be much use in spotting areas where students need more help. And it does not examine how The Washington Post Company. Reproduced by the Library of Congress, Congressional Research Service with permtssion of the copyright claimant. well kids have actually mastered high schuol subjects such as chemistry, Spanish, American history or geography. One sign of changing times way a little-notic& report from Harvard College this winter. Harvard confirmed that it was considering allowing future candidates for admission to skip the SAT altogether. Instead, applicants would have the option of submitting the results of tests that evaluate 'their mastery, or "achievemcnt," in five high school academic subjects. The new thinking about testing is part of a fundamental reevaluation of what is needed to improve the quality of American secondary education, a reevaluation that marks a clear (and controversial) break with the recent past. Educational reformers have been urging schools to radically revamp their curriculums, to eliminate the junk courses that have accumulated in them over the past two decades, and to require all students, not just collegebound ones, to master academic subjects such as world history and science. For that, the nation clearly will need an overhauled testing system that helps studenk identify their strengths and weaknesses early in the game, instead of one that sorts out the gifted (or the good test-takers) from the notso-gifted at the end of the academic process. The United States, alone of all major in: dustrial countries, relies primarily on a vague concept called "aptitude" to evaluate secondary school students. This year 1.5 million seniors will take the SAT, the nation's leading aptitude test. Defenders of the exam say it tests a student's ability to think and reason. Many of the questions certainly do that; they are abstract puzzles requiring skills that some feel are beyond the schools' ability to teach. The defenders also say the SAT does test a certain kind of verbal and mathematical achievement. But the SAT does not test knowledge of high schoo1courses. That is not the main purpose, either, of the American College Testing Program exam (the ACT), which 900,000 students, most of them in the Midwest, will take this y w . knowledge of foreign language, hitory, English, science and math. The questions are made up after extensive consultation with high school teachers and college profes8ors d over the country.) ACT does a s k T r n e questions about eocial studies and natural science, but it is similar to the SAT. b Remarkable as it may seem, only a small minority of US. high school students presently take standardized, national teats that evaluate what they have actually learned in high school academic courses. In recent years, many states have adopted "minimum competency" requirements for high school diplomas, but the requirements have been set so low that almost all can pass. There is nothing in this country comparable to the British 0 (for Ordinary) h l tests - the stringent three-hour, written examinations that all English 16-year-olds take in up to 10 different subjects. The 0 Levels, instituted in the 19509, rep W the old elitist system of British academic selection. Lest year, only 280,000 high school seniors out of 3 million (less than 10 percent) took the achievement tests offered in 13 subjects by the Educational Testing Service in Princeton, the m e company that produces the SAT. M a t of those who did were candidatea for elite colleges and universities that often require them. Only 86,000 (3 percent) took the ETS's achiwement teet in writing, - which nsists of a 20-minute essay. 4The ievement testa are one-hour +ltiplechoice exams that examine 3 L It is easy to see why the U.S. educational establishment has been loath to test what hiih school students have learned. As several major reports h u e d in the last few months state, high school curriculums in America are a "smorgasbord." The National Commission on Excellence in Education has reported that high schools have a "cafeteria-style curriculum in which the appetizers and desserts can easily be mistaken for the main course." Only 31 percent of high school graduates complete intermediate algebra and only 16 percent finish a geography course: In an Ill~noissample, it turned out that more than 2,100 different subjects were taught in the state's hiih ~ h o o l s and , a large portion of them were non-academic. That was in 1977. Since then, economic cuts and state-ordered reforms have sharply reduced electives, but curriculums everywhereare still bloated with such courses. Large high schools typically offer 150 or more courses, including subjects such as driving, speed-reading, gourmet cuisine, bowling, office management, food services, medical careers, "tots and toddlers" (baby care), women in society, wilderness survival and whale watching. The available evidence is not reassuring about what high school students actually do learn. In 1976, one out of seven 17-year-oldsthought the president did not have to obey the law and only 12 percent were aware that plastica are petroleum producta. International comparisons are risky, given the uniquely broacl ba& of US. public education, but results of such comparisons have not &en flattering to the United States. In one, done between 1973 and 1977, American 13-to-18-year-olds tested near the bottom of industrial countries in civics, mathematia and reading comprehension. I . Why has a schoolroom "smorgasbord," and its shoddy results, been tolerated for so long in a country that constantly boasts of its commitment to education? The answer is that the its nation's educational leaders college deans, teachers' organizations, testing companies, high school principals and state and local authorities - have found convenient excuses to avoid taking action. They have persieently claimed that they can't agree among themselves on what students should know. And they have fallen back on an almost religious-sounding incantation: local authorities, not outsiders, should decide what is taught in local schools. The SAT, with its alleged objectivity and its claim to be "curriculum free", has helped educators avoid the real h u e s of educational quality. For years, it provided admissions offices at elite colleges and universities with a convenient way to finesse the problem of identifying students' accom- - plishments, while still Tunneling gifted applicants to them. Because it almost defied definition, the SAT enabled educators to duck the charge that they were dictating what schools should teach. What makes recent proposals for educational reform so intriguing is that the propaah take a first stab at identifying the knowledge and skills that American students should acquire in high school. Several of the proposals call in so many words for something this country has never had: a high school curriculum, rooted in academic subjects and specific academic skills, that ie generally accepted nationwide. Last year, the College Board, a non-profit organization of 2,500 colleges, schools and school systems, issued a %-page booklet identifying "what [college] students need to know and be able to do," It listed six academic subjects (English, the arts, mathematics, science, social studies and foreign language), and six academic "competencies" (reading, writing, speaking and listening, mathematics, reasoning, and studying). The booklet was general enough to avoid charges that the College h d was "dictating" to the schools, but it went much further than ever before in saying that there are a set of definable goals for all schoaia In some areas it got specific. Under world history, it said students ahould not only know about the Renaissance and the Industrial Revolution, but also "the epread of Islm." The booklet was followed last summer by the release of two major reports that questioned current high school curriculums. a One, the report of the National Commission on Excelence in Education, recommended that state and local authorities require all studenh geeking a diploma to take four years of English, three years of mathemat- These SAT sample questions measure ''aptitude." They require an ability to reason and comprehend abstractions - qwlities that some feel are difficult to teach i n a classroom. Six out of 10 students get the right answer to Question 1. Slightly less than one out of 10 correctly answer Question 2. (For correct answers, see box below.) By contrast, achievement tests measure how well students have mastered specific high school subjects. History achievements ask about the dates or significance of actwl events and chemistry questions may test a student's knowledge of chemical reactions. The questions are from "Taking the SAT," the College Board's guide for high school students. 1. In the figure above, a rectangular piece of paper ABCD is folded along dotted line WZ ao that A is on top of X and DisontopofY and then folded along XY so that B is on top of W and C is on top of Z. A small semicircle S with diameter on BC is cut out of the folded paper. If the paper is unfolded, which of the answers at right could be the result? 2. How many minutes will it take a rocket to travel 4,000 miles if its average rate is 100 miles every t seconds? ics, three years of science, three years of social studies and one-half year of computer science. The other was former U.S. Commissioner of Education Ernest L. Boyer's book, "High School," written for the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Boyer called for schools to establish a "core of common learning," with required courses in literature, the arts,foreign language, history, civics, sciences, mathematics, technology and health. Boyer called for an end to the tracking of students into "academic" and "general" programs. Under his plan all students would take a solid group of academic subjecta Boyer's ideas have been attacked on grounds that they could lead to a Jhomogenous" system that would keep schools from tailoring curriculums to local needs. Doesn't a school in an Iowa farm community have different educational priorities and values than,one serving ethnic neighborhoods in Chicago, they asked? Boyer contends that question dodges the real issue. * "If a school district is incapable of naming the t h i i it wants high school graduates to know, if a community is unable to define the culture it wants high school graduates to inherit, if education cannot help students see relationship beyond their own personal ones, then each new generation will remain dangerously ignorant, and its capacity to live confidently and responsibly will be diminished," wrote Boyer. For better or worse, the testing system is sure to have a major impact on whether these curriculum reform proposals get off the ground. The SAT became a mass, nationwide k t after World War 11, when higher education was expanding rapidly and colleges and universities needed some uniform indicators. Initially, SAT scores were thought to be an excellent predictor of college performance. When subsequent studies questioned that assumption, the rationale for the SAT changed. The current, more modeet view of the College Board, which sponsors the test, is that it is "one helpful piece of information." Spokesmen for some college admissions offices say SAT scores help students evaluate their own scholastic strengths, so that they can "selfselect" colleges that fit those abilitiea It identifies "gifted" (if high scores automatically warrant that adjective) students who otherwise might get lost in the admissions shuffle because they attend an undistinguished high school. And it provides a check on whether grades on high school transcripts accurately reflect a student's ability. But Boyer and others suggest that the mcat important use of the SAT today is one for which it was never intended: as a report card on schools, not students. The decline in average SAT scores starting in 1964 has been a prime mover in calls for educational reform. And rightly or wrongly, communities often judge the quality of individual schools on how well students score on the test. a a Most colleges, and ETS itself, have come to recognize the limitations of the SAT. Nevertheless, it is still associated with academic "merit," through the Preliminary SAT (PSAT), the exam in junior year which is used to select semi-finalists for National Merit Scholarships. If anything, students, parents and than schools seem more OW ever with SAT results, and a whole industry has grown up around coaching students to raise their scores, This is ironic in view of considerable evidence that SAT scores will have little bearing on whether the vast majority of high school students enter the college of their choice. "Most private colleges in America today, including some with rather ANSWERS: Question 1: The answer is A. Question 2: The answer i i ~ , ._I ~chiwement(not aptitude), linking it to a "core" academic curriculum. Ah highly selective, prestige such ae Swarthmore,Yale or the Univeraity of viginib SAT^ are still im. portant. But euch etudenta are in a minority nationwide. Of this year's 1,750,000 collegebound eeniora, nearly 700,000 will enter two-year colleges that, for the most part, have open enrollments. Another 400,000 will enter state universities, most of which the Big Ten schools in the Midwest, for example - accept all applicants from their states. (The University of Wisconsin stopped requiring the teat entirely in 1972.) Another 650,000 go on to four-year colleges. Many of these do use teats and are selective; but they are not nearly as selective as many students believe. In all, probably no more than 80,000 of next year's freshman places will be in the 100 or so institutions where the combined math and verbal ,scores of entering freshmen average 1,100 or better out of a possible 1,600, according to UCLA's Mi.In other prestigious names, are not highly se- words, a score of 650 on the verbals lective," writes Richard Moll in and 450 on the math would still be "Playing tfie College Admissions high enough to give a student a reaGame," a handbook for parents and sonable chance at a selective college. students. "High price, a declinhg A combined score of 1,200 is high number of college-age Americans, ap- enough to get a student into 90 perprehension regarding the worth of a cent of the 50 most selective schools, bachelor's degree in the job market Astin estimates and the growth and strength of the I state university system nationwide have created his phenomenon. . . . One concern of educators such as Unfortunately, many colleges pose as George Hanford, president of the being more selective than they really College Board, is that the message of are." h e r and otlter reformers may be According to Moll, not more than misinterpreted as a 4 for a return 40 private colleges (and far fewer to a rigid curriculum emph&ig public ones) "enjoy the luxury of ad- rote and fact learning. In emphasiimitting one out of two of their candi- ing achievement and m&.ery, he dates, and not more than half a warns, we could sacrifice thinking dozen private colleges admit [as few and reasoning. And in a rapidly as]one out of fi." changing world, thaee two qualities Mogt C6lleges still require SAT will be more important than acquiracores, but less than 2 percent use ing knowledge. them as the single most important In Hanford's view, the SAT is a criterion for admission. good teat of those important qual"After you get bey~ndthe first 50 itiea "I worry about too much emor' 75 most selective colleges, the phasis on achievement," he says. problem is who not to admit," says But even if the SAT does serve /Alexander Astin, d i r a t a of the some useful purposes, it seems urHigher Education Research Institute gently in need of major modification. At the University of California in Los For one thing, it ignores the needs .Angeles. For them, the SAT is useful of hundreds of thousands of students mainly in weeding out the very worst who are not going on to college, but ,students (or worst teat takers) not' who still need guidance in planning in selecting the brightest. their futwea Boyer proposes replacing the SAT with a Student Achievem ment and Advisement Test (SAAT), To students in the Washington which all &dents would 'take. It area who have their h o p set on would evaluate theii academic - < . - 19 rccompanying qwwtlormaire could collect information about their inter. atr, goale, p b &tory and expert ences. That informatim could then be wdto help them chow ruitabb academic or employment o~~ortunk titiea I i FX'S has already begun work on new series of diagnostic testa that. teachers could use in classrooms to pinpoint students' strengths and weakneeees all through the academii: year. "We need better testing at the school level for purpoees of instrue tion and learning," says ETS president Gregory Anrig. "Our present tests don't answer the qwation, 'How am I doing in progreasing toward my goals?' We don't have testa that are helpful teaching tools." A revamped testing system would create a new set of standards for schools and students. One obvious possiblity would be combining achievements and SATs, to get a more complete picture of a student's ability to reason and master a+demic subjects. Such a test could do a better job of recognizing persod qualities such as hard work, determination, curiosity and love of learning - all indispensable for doing well in academic subjecta, but not neassarily for wring high on aptitests. 6 Changes of this magnitude would face bureaucratic resistance. 'If impl& mented, there would be leas need for teachers of "electives," but more demand for teachers who are really competent in their academic fields, as European and Japanese secondary school teachers tend to be. Such reforms are bound to run into criticism that they favor students from affluent school systems blessed with gifted teachers. There is concern that raising academic standards too high might force kids out of school, ,especiallyminorities. That would defeat the purpaee of US. public education, which has always strived to be open rather than exclusive. But it is hard to see how that could happen. It is the lack of higher education facilities, not the tests, that make European education selective. There are only 40 academic colleges in ail of England, while nearly two out of three US. high school students go on to one of the nation's 3,000 degea and universities. The pressing issue for the United States is not wider access to higher ,education. It is the disappointing level of knowledge, academic skills and motivation of young people who feel, unjustifiably, that they have had ,agood education in high school Septembex 18, 1983 p . A2 @ 466 463 427 427 MARYLAND VIRGINIA +4 +2 890 4-5 0 0 -4 -I-39 -4 1978-83 468. 425 420 430 FEMALE MALE 923 865 893 TOTAL -1 -1 scores of those who graduated from high school last June. I t includes statewide figures that show combined scores on the two parts of the test up 4 points in Maryland and 2 points in Virginia. The score for District of Columhia students in both public and private 0 +2 - -9 -15 schools rose by 5 points, though it was still 67 points below the nationwide average. The wore for Maryland matched the national average, while Virginia's was 3 points below it. The College Board said scores for D.C.public schools and other local -16 -23 -13 1973-83 -20 -1 +1 1982-83 1973-83 1982-83 - - CHANGE IN MATH CHANGE IN VERBAL SOURCE: COLLEGE ENTRANCE EXAMINATION BOARD 493 445 MATH VERBAL ALL 1983 AVERAGE SAT SCORES BY SEX NmONWlDE IIJRISDICTION -24 -49 +3 -33 1973-83 CHANGE IN TOTAL SCORE 1982-83 893 826 893 TOTAL NOTE: SCORES INCLUDE BOTH PUBLIC AND PRIVATE SCHOOL STUDENTS IN EACH 427 399 DISTRICT Of COLUMBIA 468 425 MATH UNITED STATES VERBAL AVERAGE SAT SCORES 1983 The Washington P o s t Company, Reproduced by t h e C o n g r e s s i o n a l Research S e r v i c e , L i b r a r y of Congress, w i t h p e r m i s s i o n of t h e c o p y r i g h t c l a i m a n t . After rising last year for the first time in almost two decades, the nationwide average score on the Scholastic Aptitude Test remained unchanged this spring, the College Board reports today. While last year's rise was celebrated as a pmible "watershed" for American schtn)ls, the failure of this year's SAT ticores to continue lo advance was a disappointment to educators. The SAT is the nation's most widely used college entrance exam, taken by alnicmt 1 million high school senion a year. The mathematics average on this year's exam was 468, up one point from 198'2, but the verbal average fell one point to 425. !'I think the trend line seems to indicate that we've leveled off, that the slippage has stopped," said Robert G. Cameron, executive director of research and development for the Cdlege Board, which ia an associat i m of about 2,500 schools and colleges. :I'd be a fool to predict the future," Cameron continued, "but I'm still optimistic that with all the refovmers on the lcnse there will be some real improvement." William ,I. Hennett, chairman of the National Endowment li)r the Humanities, was more cautious. "Maybe you can say we're holding steady," he remarked, "hut we're steady at the bottom." in 1963, just before the scores began their slide, the nationwide SAT average was 478 on the verbal part and 502 on the mathematics part. By 1980 and 1981, when the scores reached their lowest level, the combined average score had declined by 90 points-54 points in the verbal score and 36 points in math. I ~ s year, t the scores rose 2 points in verbal and 1 point in math. "After dropping so much, this is just flat," Bennett said of the last two years' results. "Nobody can say we have the problems licked." A perfect score on each half of the two-hour multiple-choice exam is 800 points. The lowest is 200. The test is taken by about a third of all high school seniors. In math, the exam concentrates on problem-solving, using arithmetical reasoning, algebra and geometry. The verbal part measures reading comprehension and vocabulary. 'The new report is based on SAT Nationwide College Entrance Test Scores Show No Improvement WASKINGTON POST IQ 0 ,school systems will be available next week. George H. Hanford, president of the College Board, said the 1-point rise in the nationwide SAT average in math "is apparently 'due to the improved performance of women, as the average score for women rose 2 points from 1982, while the average score for men remained the same." , Hanford said the score rise "coincides with increases in the amount of math that women report taking in high sch001 and parallels their increasing interest in careers in such fields as business and computer science." Even with the increase, however, the average math score for female students is 48 points below that of males. On the verbal part of the test, the average for males is 10 points ahead. Both sexes dropped 1 point on the verbal test last year. Despite the mixed results on the test, data collected from students who take it indicate a continuing trend toward enrolling in more academic cwrsea Since 1977, the average amount of study in major high school academic subjects-English, m i a l studies, mathematics, foreign languages, and science-has increased from 15.8 to 16.3 years. The greatest increases were in mathematics and physical science, particularly among female studenb, though males continue to take more courses in both subjects. "I'm afraid we don't know what goes on in those courses," Cameron said. "We don't know how rigorous they are." Average grades reported by high school students were unchanged for the fourth year in a row, though they are still down only slightly from the peaks of grade inflation reached in the mid-1970s. Last year, the College Board reported that gains by blacks and other minority groups played a major role in the SAT increase, but scores for differ@ ethnic groups on .this year's test will not be published until December. After a spurt during the 1970s, the proportion of test-takers who are black dropped slightly to 8.8 percent, down from a peak of 9.1 percent in 1980. Asian students continued to increase rapidly, reaching 4.2 percent, more than double the 2.0 percent reported in 1975. The proportion of students in private schools also rose, climbing from 17.5 percent to 19.7 percent since 1978. Council of Chief State School Officers DIRECTORY 400 379 Hall of the States North C a p i t o l S t r e e t , N.W. Washington, D.C. 20001 2021393-81 61 FEBRUARY 1984 Reproduced by t h e L i b r a r y of Congress, Congressional Research S e r v i c e , March, 1 9 8 4 . CHIEF STATE SCHOOL OFFICERS ALABAMA CALIFORNIA Wayne Teague Superintendent of Education S t a t e Department of Education Montgomery, Alabama 36130 (205 ) 832-3316 B i l l Honig Superintendent of P u b l i c I n s t r u c t i o n S t a t e Department of Education 7 21 Cap it 01Mall Sacramento, C a l i f o r n i a 9 5814 (916) 445-4338 Harold Raynolds, Jr. Canmissioner of Education S t a t e Department of Education Alaska Off i c e B u i l d i n g Juneau, Alaska 99811 (907) 465-2800 AMERICAN SAMOA . Mere T Bet ham D i r e c t o r of Education Department of Education Pago Pago, T u t u i l a 96799 (0s 6 33-5159 ) * A R I ZONA Carolyn Warnkr superintendent of P u b l i c Instruction S t a t e Department of Education 1535 West J e f f e r s o n Phoenix, Arizona 85007 (602) 255-4361 ARKANSAS Don R . Roberts D i r e c t o r of t h e Department of Education L i t t l e Rock, Arkansas 72201 (501) 371-1464 . Calvin F F r a z i e r Canmissioner of Education S t a t e Department of Education 303 West Colfax, 6 t h F l o o r Denver, Colorado 80204 (303) 534-8871 e x t . 201 CONNECTICUT Gerald N . T i r o z z i Canmissioner of Education S t a t e Department of Education Post O f f i c e Box 2219 Hartford, Connecticut 06106 (203) 566-5061 DELAWARE Willlam B. Keene Superintendent of P u b l i c I n s t r u c t i o n S t a t e Dept. of P u b l i c I n s t r u c t i o n Post Off i c e Box 1402 Townsend Bldg. Dover, Delaware 19901 (302) 736-4601 - DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA F l o r e t t a McKenzie S uperintendent of P u b l i c Schools D i s t r i c t of Columbia Public Schools 415 Twelfth S t r e e t , N.W. Washington, D .C 20004 (202 ) 7 2 4 4 2 2 2 . *Overseas Operator E f f e c t i v e Date: 2/84 ILLINOIS . Ralph D. T u r l i n g t o n Commissioner of E d u c a t i o n S t a t e Department of E d u c a t i o n C a p i t o l B u i l d i n g , Room PL 116 T a l l a h a s s e e , F l o r i d a 32301 (904) 487-1785 Donald G G i l l Superintendent of E d u c a t i o n S t a t e Board of E d u c a t i o n 100 North F i r s t S t r e e t S p r i n g f i e l d , I l l i n o i s 6 2777 (217) 782-2221 GEORGIA INDIANA C h a r l e s McDaniel Superintendent of Schools S t a t e Department of E d u c a t i o n S t a t e O f f i c e Building A t l a n t a , Georgia 30334 (404) 656-2800 Harold H. Negley S u p e r i n t e n d e n t of P u b l i c I n s t r u c t i o n S t a t e Dept. of P u b l i c I n s t r u c t i o n S t a t e House, Room 229 I r d i a n a p o l l s , I n d i a n a 46 204 (317) 232-6612 IOWA - G l o r i a Nelson D i r e c t o r of Education Department of E d u c a t i o n P o s t O f f i c e Box DE Agana, Guam 96910 ( 0 s 477-8975)* R o b e r t D. Benton Superintendent of P u b l i c I n s t r u c t i o n S t a t e Dept. of P u b l i c I n s t r u c t i o n Grimes S t a t e O f f i c e B u i l d i n g Des Moines, Iowa 50319 (515) 281-5294 HAWAII Donnis H . Thompson Superintendent of E d u c a t i o n P o s t O f f i c e Box 2360 Honolulu, Hawaii 96804 (808) 548-6405 Harold Blackburn Commissioner of E d u c a t i o n S t a t e Department of E d u c a t i o n 120 East T e n t h S t r e e t Topeka, Kansas 66612 (913) 296-3201 KENTUCKY J e r r y L. Evans Superintendent of P u b l i c I n s t r u c t i o n S t a t e Department of E d u c a t i o n 650 West S t a t e S t r e e t B o i s e , Idaho 83720 (208 ) 334-3300 A l l c e McDonald S u p e r i n t e n d e n t of P u b l i c I n s t r u c t i o n S t a t e Department of Education 1725 C a p i t o l P l a z a Tower F r a n k f o r t , Kentucky 40601 (502) 564- 4770 Lom SIANA MINNESOTA J. K e l l y Nix Ruth E. R a n d a l l Commissioner of Education S t a t e Department of Education 712 C a p i t o l Square Building 550 Cedar S t r e e t St. Paul, Minnesota 55101 (612 ) 296-2358 Superintendent of Education S t a t e Department of Education P o s t O f f i c e Box 44064 Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70804 (504) 342-3602 MISSISSIPPI Robert E. Boose Commissioner of Education Department of Educational and Cultural Services S t a t e House Augusta, Maine 04333 (207 ) 289 -23 21 David W. Hornbeck S t a t e Superintendent of Schools S t a t e Departmenbt of Education 200 West Baltimore S t r e e t S B a l t imore , Mary land 21201 (301) 659-2200 John H. Lawson Commissioner of Education S t a t e Department of Education Quincy Center Plaza 1385 Hancock S t r e e t Quincy, Massachusetts 02169 (617) 770-7300 Charles E. Holladay Superintendent of Education S t a t e Department of Education Post O f f i c e Box 771, High S t r e e t Jackson, M i s s i s s i p p i 39 205 (6 01) 359 -3513 Arthur L. Mallory Canmissioner of Education D ep a r t ment of Element a r y & S ec ond a r y Education Post O f f i c e Box 480 J e f f e r s o n S t a t e Off i c e Building J e f f e r s o n City, Missouri 65102 (314 ) 751-4446 Ed Argenbright Superintendent of P u b l i c I n s t r u c t i o n S t a t e O f f i c e of P u b l i c I n s t r u c t i o n S t a t e Capitol He l e n a , Montana 59 620 (406 ) 444 -365 4 MICHIGAN NEBRASKA P h i l l i p E . Runkel Supt. of P u b l i c I n s t r u c t i o n S t a t e Department of Education Post O f f i c e Box 30008 115 We s t Allegan S t r e e t Lansing, Michigan 48909 (517 ) 373-3354 Joseph E. Lutjeharms Commissioner of Education S t a t e Department of Education Post O f f i c e Box 94987 301 Centennial Mall, South L i n c o l n , Nebraska 68509 (402) 471-2465 NEVADA NORTH CAROLINA Ted Sanders Superintendent of P u b l i c I n s t r u c t i o n S t a t e Department of Education 400 West King S t r e e t , C a p i t o l Complex Carson C i t y , Nevada 89710 (702) 885-3100 A. Craig P h i l l i p s superintendent of P u b l i c I n s t r u c t i o n S t a t e Dept. of P u b l i c I n s t r u c t i o n Education Building, Room 318 Edenton C S a l i s b u r y S t r e e t s Raleigh, North Caro l i n a 27 611 (919 ) 733-3813 NEW HAMPSHIRE NORTH WKOTA Robert L. B r u n e l l e Commissioner of Education S t a t e Department of Education 410 S t a t e House Annex Concord, New Hampshire 03301 (603) 271-3144 NEW JERSEY Saul Coopeman Canmissioner of ducati ion S t a t e Department of Education 225 West S t a t e S t r e e t Trenton, New J e r s e y 08625 (609) 292-4450 NEW MEXICO Leonard J . DeLayo Superintendent of Public I n s t r u c t i o n S t a t e Department of Education S t a t e Capitol S a n t a Fe, New Mexico 87503 (505) 827-6635 NEW YORK Gordon M. Ambach Commissioner of Education S t a t e Education ~ e p a r t m e n t Albany, New York 12234 (518) 474-5844 Joseph C. Crawford Superintendent of Public I n s t r u c t i o n S t a t e Dept. of P u b l i c I n s t r u c t i o n S t a t e Capitol Building 600 Boulevard Avenue East Bismarck, North Dakota 58505-0164 (701) 224-2261 NORTHERN MRIANA ISLANDS Henry I . Sablan Superintendent of Education Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Is l a rid s Department of Education Saipan, CM 96950 ( 0 s 933/9812)* O H 10 - . F r a n k l i n B Walter Superintendent of P u b l i c I n s t r u c t i o n S t a t e Department of Education 65 South Front S t r e e t , Roan 808 Columbus, Ohio 43215 (614) 466-3304 OKLAHOMA L e s l i e R. F i s h e r Superintendent of Public I n s t r u c t i o n S t a t e Department of Education Oliver Hodge Memorial Education Bldg. 2500 North Lincoln Blvd. Oklahana C i t y , Oklahcma 73105 (405 ) 5 21-3301 O m O N SOUTH DAKOTA Verne A. Duncan Superintendent of P u b l i c I n s t r u c t i o n S t a t e Department of Education 700 R i n g l e Parkway, S .E Salem, Oregon 97310 (503) 378-357 3 Same s 0 Hansen S t a t e Superintendent Dept. of Education & C u l t u r a l A f f a i r s Divieio: of Elementary C S e c o d a r g Education P i e r r e , South Dakota 57501 (605) 773-3243 . . PENNSYLVANIA TENNE SSEE R o b e r t C. Wilburn S e c r e t a r y of E d u c a t i o n S t a t e Department of Education 333 Market S t r e e t , 1 0 t h F l o o r H a r r i s b u r g , Pennsylvania 1A 2 6 (717) 787-5820 Maria Socorro L a c o t S e c r e t a r y of E d u c a t i o n Department of Education P o s t O f f i c e Bax 759 Hat o Rey , Puert o Rico 00919 (809) 751-5372 Robert L. McElrath Ccmmissioner of E d u c a t i o n S t a t e Department of E d u c a t i o n 100 Cordell H u l l B u i l d i n g N a s h v i l l e , Tennessee 37219 (615 ) 741-2731 TEXAS Raymon L. Bynum Canmissioner of E d u c a t i o n Texas Education Agency 201 E a s t 1 1 t h S t r e e t Austin, Texas 78701 (512) 475-3271 MODE ISLAND TRUST TERRITORY OF THE PACIFIC ISLANDS J . Troy E a r h a r t Commissioner of - E d u c a t i o n S t a t e Department of Education 22 Hayes S t r e e t Providence, Rhode I s l a n d 02908 (401) 277-2031 Harold W. Crouch Chief O f f i c e of Education Saipan, Mariana I s l a n d s ( 0 s 9319)* 96950 - UTAH SOUTH CAROLINA . Leland Burningham Superintendent of P u b l i c I n s t r u c t i o n S t a t e O f f i c e of E d u c a t i o n 250 E a s t F i f t h South S a l t Lake C i t y , Utah 84111 (801) 533-5431 G C h a r l i e G. Willlams Superintendent of Education S t a t e Department of Education 1006 Rutledge B u i l d i n g 1429 S e n a t e S t r e e t Columbia, South Carolina 29201 (803) 758-3291 VERMONT Stephen Kaagan Commissioner of Education S t a t e Department of Education State Street Montpelier, Vermont 05602 (802) 828-3135 Herbert J. Grover Superintendent of P u b l i c I n s t r u c t i o n S t a t e Dept. of Public I n s t r u c t i o n 125 South Webster S t r e e t Post O f f i c e Box 7841 Madison, Wisconsin 53707 (608 ) 266-1771 V I RGI MA S. John Davis Superintendent of P u b l i c I n s t m c t i o n S t a t e Department of Education Post O f f i c e Box 64 James Monroe Bldg. Fourteenth & F r a n k l i n Sts. Richmond, Virginia 23216 (804) 225-2023 Lynn Simons S t a t e Supt. of P u b l i c I n s t r u c t i o n S t a t e Department of Education Hathaway Building Cheyenne, Wyaning 8200 2 (307 ) 777-7675 V I R G I N IShANDS Charles W. T u r n b u l l Commissioner of Education Department of Education Post O f f i c e Box 6640 Charlotte AmaUe . S t . Thanas, Virgin I s l a n d s (809) 774-2810 CCSSO OFFICE 00801 U SHIK T ON Frank B. B r o u i l l e t Superintendent af P u b l i c I n s t r u c t i o n S t a t e Dept. of P u b l i c I n s t r u c t i o n Old C a p i t o l Building Olympia, Washington 25305 (206) 753-6717 WEST V I R G I N I A Roy Truby S t a t e Superintendent of Schools S t a t e Department of Education 1900 Washington S t r e e t Building B , Roan 358 Charleston, West V i r g i n i a 25305 (304) 348-3644 Willlam F. P i e r c e Executive D i r e c t o r Council of Chief S t a t e School O f f i c e r s 379 Hall of t h e S t a t e s 400 North Capitol S t r e e t , N.W. Washington, D .C 20001 (202) 393-8161 .