Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Scores Stable as More Minorities Take SAT

This from the Washington Post:

SAT performance held steady for 2008 high school graduates even as participation rose among minority students and those who are part of the first generation in their families to go to college, the College Board reported yesterday...

...Nationwide, the number of students taking the SAT surpassed 1.5 million for the first time, up 8 percent from five years ago and almost 30 percent over the past decade. Forty percent of test-takers were minority students, up from 39 percent last year, and 36 percent were among a group described as first-generation collegegoers, up from 35 percent.

College Board officials considered the boost in participation evidence that the high school students who aspire to a college degree are growing more ethnically and economically diverse.

Gaston Caperton, president of the College Board, a nonprofit organization based in New York, said the pool of test-takers "more than ever . . . reflects the face of education in this country."

"It's essential that all students strive to attend college -- and then succeed in their classes and, ultimately, graduate. We're gratified to see that our country is moving increasingly toward being a nation of college graduates," he said.

Some educators, policymakers and others concerned about high school quality saw the consistency in scores from last year as a bright spot. Scores on standardized exams often dip when the number of test-takers increases.

Education experts said that recent efforts to improve the quality of high school courses and expand academic options, to ensure that students are ready for college, are possibly starting to take hold.

"Some of these kids wouldn't have taken the SAT just a few years ago. They wouldn't have wanted to. They wouldn't have been encouraged to. And both are changing," said former West Virginia governor Bob Wise, president of the Alliance for Excellent Education, a group seeking to improve high schools. "I also take it as a challenge. It's not fair to build the expectation level and not be able to deliver on the quality of education." ...

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