SAT Score Decline-Is It Real or a Myth?

A recent article headline recently grabbed my attention as is their intended purpose, The article was in the New York Times education section and was published on August 30, 2006. The headline read “SAT Reading and Math Scores Show Decline?” As a person deeply interested in education, the headline certainly piqued my interest, so I read the entire article. The article says that the SAT scores in reading and math for the graduating class of 2006 are the lowest they have been in 31 years. As you readers know, math and reading are the foundational core subjects that students must master in order to be successful in the other subjects. If you can’t read-you can’t locate a country on a map or read the correct ingredients in the chemistry lab experiment.

Even though the drop in scores is very small Wayne Camara, Vice President for research and analysis at the College Board (who administers the SAT) noted: “The data does suggest that as a nation, critical reading and writing are lagging.” Ok so the SAT is just one test that students take. This same article also noted That the ACT test scores are the highest they have been in 20 years. As soon as I read that sentence, I knew that their must be a reasonable explanation for the difference in scores for both of theses tests.

My worry and frustration at the nations failing school systems cooled as I contineued to read the article and found out that the SAT test has been updated and was considered new this past year. In addition, students sometimes take the SAT several times and gain points each time they take it. Since this was a new version, this was the first time students took the test.

In my years of working with schools, I have come to understand that a decrease in scores one year does not necessarily mean there is a major problem. If the SAT scores continue to decrease over the next 3-4 years, that might constitute a trend or a problem. The SAT and ACT are just one measure of knowledge; albeit an important source since colleges look very seriously at those scores.