SAT scores continued to decline across the U.S., according to the College Board which creates and administers the popular college entrance exams. Reading scores for the Class of 2011 dropped three points from last year to 497, the lowest average on record. It's yet another data point in the suggesting that America is falling behind much of the rest of the world in terms of educational attainment.
"In today's knowledge-based, global economy, it's more critical than ever that American students are adequately prepared to pursue advanced degrees and compete for the jobs of the future," Secretary of Education Arne Duncan was quoted as saying in the College Board's report. The test results are going the wrong direction if that's his plan.
Compared to last year, the average score for writing fell two points to 489, and the average math score ticked down a point to 514, the SAT Benchmark evaluation reported. A score of 2400 is the highest total achievable on the test. "The SAT Benchmark score of 1550 (Critical Reading, Mathematics and Writing score combined) indicates a 65 percent likelihood of achieving a B- average or higher during the first year of college, which in turn is indicative of a high likelihood of college success and completion," the organization said.
A greater number of students for whom English was not the only language spoken at home were tested this year: 27% of the total population of 1.65 million students who took the SAT. Specifically, said the College Board, "431,319 of SAT takers in the class of 2011 report that English was not the only language first learned at home."
Perhaps unsurprisingly, students who took Advanced Placement courses scored better, averaging 70 points higher than the national average.
While student scores on standardized tests continue to rise in places like China, those in the U.S. continue to falter. Competitiveness in science and physics are at the core of advancement in technology and manufacturing techniques. What theses test scores suggest is that in general, Americans who enter the work force in the next one to five years will not be as well educated as many of their foreign counterparts. That spells bad news for America's ability to lead the world in science and other critical disciplines. With a workforce whose education and skills are in decline, the U.S. will struggle to hold its lead in the industries that are key to our economic future.
SAT Scores Fall Nationwide: A Harbinger of U.S. Economic Decline