SAT scores show disparities by race, gender, family income

Average scores on the SAT college entrance exam dipped slightly for the high school class of 2009, while gender, race, and income gaps widened, according to figures released August 25th by the College Board. While College Board stresses that “students who had completed a core curriculum, taken their school’s most rigorous courses and familiarized themselves with the test were among the strongest performers,” they don’t address why some groups consistently outperform others on standardized tests.

Yale professor Robert Sternberg’s concept of Successful Intelligence, which looks at broadening the definition of intelligence and creating new tools to measure it, considers more than verbal and mathematical abilities by examining creativity, initiative and leadership skills. Some of the students who score lower on tests like the SAT may exhibit high levels of emotional and social intelligence in their every day activities, but these abilities aren’t as easy to measure from a paper and pencil exam even though they are predictor’s of success in college, career and life. Sternberg’s concern is for students who don’t test well: “[they] never get the chance to show what they really could do in important jobs,” Sternberg said last year in an interview with PBS. Here are questions to consider:

How can we reliably measure aptitudes like social and emotional skills?

Why are Asian-Americans scoring higher than other students on the SAT?

What can we do on a school by school level to close these gaps between gender, race and income?

USA Today
By Mary Beth Marklein
Average national SAT scores for the high school class of 2009 dropped two points compared with last year, a report out today says. And while the population of test takers was the most diverse ever, average scores vary widely by race and ethnicity.

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