High school students did worse on SAT tests this year than their peers in 2014, highlighting both the sad state of the American education system and the falling reputation of what was once the nation’s benchmark exam.
Teenagers performed particularly poorly when it came to critical reading, posting the worst results of any group of test takers in more than four decades. While students in 1972 recorded an average score of 530 in reading, kids this year managed to reach just 495. Math was hardly any better, as the 2015 class averaged 511 out of 800, the worst results this century.
“Simply doing the same things we have been doing is not going to improve these numbers,” said Cyndie Schmeiser, chief of assessment of the College Board, in a statement. “This is a call to action to do something different to propel more students to readiness.”
While the overall grades were abhorrent, the statistics surrounding this year’s test also showed just how little the SAT still matters. While 1.7 million people took the exam this year, this was well below the number who signed up for the rival ACT, which was taken by almost six out of ten students who graduated high school in 2015.
Valerie Strauss of the Washington Post noted that, while education institutions continue to preach for reform, we have seen change after change — like the drastic one made by College Board head David Coleman in 2010 — over the past two decades without any results. “Reformers like Coleman are now the status quo,” wrote Strauss, “and the evidence of the effectiveness of their strategies have yet to appear. And if the past four years of SATs are a measure, then their reforms are having a negative effect on scores.”