It was all over the news last week (including this article in the Wall Street Journal) that SAT scores have fallen to the point where combined scores are the lowest this decade. Reading scores are the worst since 1994. This has lead to much discussion about the merits of No Child Left Behind, with some saying that the lower scores are an indication of its failure. On the other hand, some argue that scores are lower due to the democratization of the test, which has been taken by a growing number of students (especially minority students from poorer districts) since 1999. (This obviously does not address why the gap exists, just that it is there and how it affects the SAT statistics.) This explanation ties in interestingly with the fact that many elite, northeastern colleges have stopped requiring the SAT as part of the admissions process. The thinking according to this article is that “An avalanche of research…concludes, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that SATs rank income. Not aptitude.”
So what is going on here? Are scores actually holding steady overall, and it is simply a fact of more students being tested? Has No Child Left Behind negatively impacted SAT scores? Are wealthy parents more likely to pay for test prep, thus skewing the results? What do you think?