The College Board, the nonprofit group that owns the SAT, announced today that the average combined scores on the exam’s mathematics and critical-reading sections for the high-school class that graduated in 2007 declined by four points from the previous year, to its lowest level in nearly a decade. Average scores on the math section fell three points, to 515, and reading scores fell one point, to 502, out of a possible 800 points. A record 1.5 million students took the exam.
Last year the combined scores on the SAT dipped by seven points, the biggest one-year drop since 1975. The College Board attributed that decline, in part, to a fall in the number of students who had taken the exam more than once. College Board officials said this year’s decline stemmed from the greater proportion of low-income and minority students who took the SAT. The 2007 testing cohort was the most diverse ever, with minority students making up 39 percent of all test takers. On average, white students score higher on the exam than black and Hispanic students do.
Average scores on the SAT’s controversial new writing section fell three points, to 494. According to the results of a forthcoming College Board survey, 61 percent of high-school teachers and administrators said the addition of the writing section had helped increase the emphasis on writing instruction in classrooms. —Eric Hoover