Monday, September 13, 2010

2010 College-Bound Seniors Results Underscore Importance of Academic Rigor

/PRNewswire/ -- More college-bound students in the class of 2010 took the SAT® than in any other high school graduating class in history, the College Board announced today. Nearly 1.6 million students from this year's graduating class participated in the college-going process by taking the SAT, and their overall performance underscored the critical role that course-taking patterns and academic rigor play in college readiness.

"Engaging students with more rigorous course work and demanding higher standards are critical in providing America's students with an education that will prepare them to compete in the 21st-century economy," said College Board President Gaston Caperton. "This report confirms that there are no tricks and there are no shortcuts to college readiness. Students who take more rigorous courses in high school are more prepared to succeed in college and beyond."

Impact of Course-Taking Patterns on College Readiness

Students in the class of 2010 who reported completing a core curriculum -- defined as four or more years of English, three or more years of mathematics, three or more years of natural science, and three or more years of social science and history -- scored, on average, 151 points higher on the SAT than those who did not complete a core curriculum.

Academic Intensity Influences SAT Performance

In addition to course-taking patterns, the rigor of a student's course work also plays a critical role in college readiness. As in previous years, students in the class of 2010 who reported taking the most demanding honors or Advanced Placement® courses performed better on the SAT.

"The SAT is a proven indicator of college readiness and a valuable tool in connecting students to college success and opportunity," said Laurence Bunin, senior vice president of the College Board's College Connection & Success System. "It is critical that all students -- especially those traditionally underrepresented in higher education -- have access to the curriculum that best prepares them for college. That is why the College Board has worked so closely on the Common Core State Standards Initiative and why we have expanded our fee-waiver program. Every student in America should have access to a world-class education that will prepare them to compete in a global economy."

SAT Alignment to the Common Core State Standards

The College Board has been one of the original partner organizations in the Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSS) since its launch in spring 2009. As part of this partnership, the College Board helped draft the original College and Career Readiness Standards, provided feedback on the K-12 standards and served on the advisory group that guided the initiative. Currently, 37 states have officially adopted the Common Core State Standards, and the College Board is committed to helping states and districts understand how to implement these new common standards.

The College Board has prepared an alignment study, to be released this fall, that examines the relationship between the Common Core State Standards and the SAT in the areas of critical reading, writing and mathematics. The study concludes that all of the knowledge and skills topics tested on the SAT are represented in the Common Core State Standards. The SAT's alignment with the CCSS means that states and districts that have adopted the Common Core State Standards can incorporate the SAT into their assessment implementation plans. Furthermore, states and districts can be confident that students whose curriculum is tied to the Common Core State Standards will be acquiring the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed on the SAT.

The PSAT/NMSQT® Provides Path to SAT Success

In addition to a core curriculum and rigorous course work, the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT®) is another important step on the path to college readiness. The PSAT/NMSQT provides valuable tools that can help students and educators identify the students' academic strengths and weaknesses in time to prepare for the SAT and education opportunities beyond high school. Of the SAT takers in the class of 2010, 80.8 percent reported taking the PSAT/NMSQT.

The PSAT/NMSQT measures the same skills as the SAT, and students who take the PSAT/NMSQT generally perform better on the SAT. Students in the class of 2010 who took the PSAT/NMSQT before taking the SAT had a higher combined score of 146 points, on average, than students who did not take the PSAT/NMSQT.

SAT Fee-Waiver Program Benefits 1 in 5 Students

In keeping with its mission to connect students to college success and opportunity, the College Board provides SAT fee waivers to low-income students for whom exam fees would present an unnecessary barrier in the college-going process. Nearly 1 out of every 5 students in the 2010 cohort who took the SAT utilized fee waivers, and the College Board granted more than $30 million in fee waivers and related services to qualifying students in the class of 2010.

SAT Participation Increases

Nearly 1.6 million students in the class of 2010 participated in the college-going process by taking the SAT during high school. In addition to being the largest class of SAT takers ever, the class of 2010 has the distinction of being the most diverse group of test-takers in the 84-year history of the SAT. Of the SAT takers in the class of 2010, 41.5 percent were minority students, up from 40.0 percent in 2009 and 28.6 percent in 2000. In the last decade, minority participation in the SAT grew 78.3 percent.

SAT Performance Stable as More Students Test

This year's college-bound seniors averaged 501 in critical reading, 516 in mathematics and 492 in writing. On a long-term basis, students' mathematics scores have experienced an upward trend and are now two points higher than in 2000 and 15 points higher than in 1990, while students' critical reading scores have declined four points in the last decade but are one point higher than in 1990.

Research Continues to Demonstrate the Value of the SAT in College Admission and Retention

The SAT is an extremely valuable tool for determining students' college readiness. Last year the College Board released an updated validity study showing that the SAT and high school grade point average (HSGPA) are equally predictive in determining first-year college grade point average (FYGPA). As always, the combination of SAT scores and HSGPA is the best predictor of FYGPA.

The SAT is also useful in predicting college success beyond the first year. An upcoming research study examining the validity of the SAT in predicting second-year cumulative GPA shows that the SAT remains a strong predictor of college success even into a student's second year in college. Future research will examine the predictive validity of the SAT in terms of college grade point average through the third and fourth years, and finally graduation.

College completion is at the top of College Board and national education agendas. Student retention into the second and third years of college is a critical step toward achieving higher graduation rates. College Board research demonstrates that the SAT can be used by admission personnel to help predict the likelihood that a student will return to school. Research on second-year retention (2009) and third-year retention (in press) shows that SAT performance is related to a students' likelihood of returning to school, even after accounting for HSGPA.

The 2010 College-Bound Seniors Total Group Profile Report and the State Profile Reports are available at http://www.collegeboard.com/SATpress. The 1,597,329 SAT takers in the class of 2010 include all students who took the SAT through June 2010. The college-bound seniors cohort traditionally has included students who tested through March of their senior year. However, the College Board has observed a trend in which more students are taking the SAT for the first time in May or June of their senior year and is expanding the cohort to include this group of college-bound students. Trend data in the 2010 College-Bound Seniors Total Group Profile Report and the 2010 College-Bound Seniors State Profile Reports include students in the class of 2010 who took the SAT through March of their senior year. Beginning in 2011, college-bound seniors trend data will include students who took the SAT through June of their senior year.

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