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College readiness remains flat

Only 43 percent of 2012 high school graduates who took the SAT were ready for college, according to the annual SAT Report on College and Career Readiness, released Monday by the College Board. That’s the same percentage that was reported in 2011.

The organization’s college readiness benchmark score is 1550, which indicates a 65 percent chance of a student achieving a B- average or higher during the first year at a four-year college. The SAT test assesses in three areas – critical reading, math and writing – and has a perfect score of 2400.

In Colorado, students who took the SAT scored higher than the national mean scores, recording 575 in critical reading (compared to 496), 581 in math (compared to 514) and 562 in writing (compared to 488). The combined Colorado mean score was 1718.

But the scores are not necessarily a good indicator of the overall college readiness of Colorado graduates, because only 17 percent of students – or 8,521 students – who graduated in 2012 took the test. Only 14 percent of students who graduated from public high schools took the exam.

As the report notes, in states with lower SAT participation rates, “Typically, these students have strong academic backgrounds and are applicants to the nation’s most selective colleges and scholarship programs. Therefore, it is expected that the SAT critical reading, mathematics and writing averages reported for these states will be higher than the national average.”

In contrast, all Colorado high school juniors are required to the rival ACT test, and the results are used in the state’s accountability system for districts and schools.

The ACT 2012 report, released last month, reported that in both Colorado and the nation, only 25 percent of students who graduated from high school in 2012 met college readiness benchmarks in all four subject areas tested by the ACT. (See EdNews story.)

About 1.66 million 2012 graduates took the SAT, most in their junior or senior years. The College Board reported the total was the largest number ever, and that 45 percent of the students were members of minority groups, also a record.

According to the College Board, “The number of students taking the SAT in each graduating class has increased 6 percent since 2008, while critical reading scores have declined four points, writing scores have declined five points, and mathematics scores have remained stable during that time.”

The report also provides extensive data on the kinds of high school classes students took and how that affects SAT scores, concluding that students who completed a core curriculum and students who took Advanced Placement classes scored better on the SAT.

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