As a group, the 2012 high school graduates have not fared so well on college entrance exams, according to two recent reports published in USA Today.
The College Board found that 57 percent of 2012 graduating seniors who took the SAT scored lower than the mark set to show that a student can achieve a B-minus or better in their first year at a four-year college.
The Iowa City-based ACT also discovered that at least 60 percent of 2012 high school graduates who took their test are not well prepared for college.
Scores from both tests have declined since 2008. The SATs critical reading and writing skills have dipped to 496 and 477, respectively, but average math scores have held steady at 514. The College Board says that a combined score of at least 1550 is a predictor of college success; 2440 is the highest possible score.
The ACT reports as well that reading and English scores have dropped since 2008 to 21.3 and 20.5, respectively. Math and science marks have risen to 21.1 and 20.9, respectively. The average composite score is 21.1 out of a possible 36.
The overall low scores are being interpreted differently. Bob Schaeffer of the National Center for Fair & Open Testing pointed to testing programs such as the federal No Child Left Behind as a colossal failure.
Reports by the two testing services note that a more diverse group of students are taking the tests. There is a 61 percent increase in students who come from low-income households.
More students are being required by their states to take the tests. By the 2014-15 academic year, 46 states are expected to incorporate common core state standards, USA Today reports.
The momentum in education is to prepare students for college, to give them a chance. But we must balance that with sound vocational training for those who are so inclined.
It is disturbing that standardized test scores are dropping, indicating that many students need to be better prepared for higher education. Many agree with College Board Vice President Jim Montoya, who said that more high school students need to experience a challenging college-prep curriculum.