Only 43 Percent of 2012 College-Bound Seniors Are College Ready

NEW YORK – The SAT Report on College & Career Readiness released today revealed that only 43 percent of SAT takers in the class of 2012 graduated from high school with the level of academic preparedness associated with a high likelihood of college success. These findings are based on the percentage of students in the class of 2012 who met the SAT College & Career Readiness Benchmark, which research shows is associated with higher rates of enrollment in four-year colleges, higher first-year college GPAs and higher rates of retention beyond the first year.

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“This report should serve as a call to action to expand access to rigor for more students,” said College Board President Gaston Caperton. “Our nation’s future depends on the strength of our education system. When less than half of kids who want to go to college are prepared to do so, that system is failing. We must make education a national priority and deliver rigor to more students.”

SAT Benchmark

Among the high school class of 2012, 43 percent of all SAT takers met the SAT College & Career Readiness Benchmark. This percentage is consistent with that of the class of 2011, which also met the benchmark at a rate of 43 percent. The SAT Benchmark score of 1550 indicates a 65 percent likelihood of achieving a B- average or higher during the first year of study at a four-year college.

Impact of Rigor on College Readiness and SAT Performance

The SAT performance of students in the high school class of 2012 continues to reinforce the importance of a rigorous high school education. Data confirm that students who complete a core curriculum and enroll in honors and/or Advanced Placement Program(AP) courses perform better on the SAT.

The relationship between high school course work and SAT performance is understandable, since the SAT is a valid and reliable measure of a student’s college readiness, and students who complete a core curriculum and participate in more rigorous course work are often better prepared for college. When students are better prepared for college, they are more likely to do well in college, more likely to stay in college and more likely to graduate from college — the keystone of our efforts to sustain American competitiveness and prosperity long into the future.

The College Board and the Common Core State Standards

The Common Core State Standards have been designed to provide a rigorous learning platform that prepares our nation’s students to perform in the classroom, to succeed in college and to prosper in their careers.

The College Board has been a consistent advocate and collaborator in the development of the Common Core State Standards, helping to draft the original College and Career Readiness Standards, providing feedback on the K–12 standards and serving on the advisory group that guided the initiative. The College Board is committed to helping states and districts understand how to implement these new common standards. The SAT is aligned to the Common Core State Standards as well or better than any assessment that has been developed for college admission and/or placement. The College Board will continue to invest in and is committed to building deeper alignment to ensure the SAT reflects the key components of the CCSS.

SAT Access and Equity

More than ever, the population of students taking the SAT reflects the diverse makeup of America’s classrooms. Among SAT takers in the class of 2012, 45 percent were minority students, making this the most diverse class of SAT takers ever. Among public school SAT takers in the class of 2012, 46 percent were minority students.

Among the SAT class of 2012, 36 percent of all students reported their parents’ highest level of education as a high school diploma or less. Underserved minority students accounted for 46 percent of first-generation college goers. Conversely, underserved minority students accounted for only 20 percent of SAT takers in the class of 2012 who reported their parents had a postsecondary degree.

“Taking a college entrance exam is a critical step on the road to higher education, but many traditionally underserved students face financial, familial and geographic barriers that can prevent them from testing,” said James Montoya, vice president of relationship development for the College Board. “Low-income students are less likely to have parents who went to college, less likely to participate in rigorous courses and less likely to have completed a core curriculum. Providing these students with the support and resources they need is crucial to meeting our nation’s long-term college completion goals.”

Since 1970, the College Board has provided SAT fee waivers to low-income students for whom exam fees would present an undue burden in the college-going process. With the assistance of high school counselors throughout the country, the College Board’s SAT Fee-Waiver Service is making it possible for more low-income students than ever before to get on the road to college.

More students in the class of 2012 utilized SAT fee waivers than any class in the history of the program. Twenty-two percent of SAT takers in the class of 2012 – and 27 percent of public school SAT takers – utilized fee waivers. Since 2008, participation in the College Board’s SAT Fee-Waiver Program has increased 61 percent.

Seventy (70) percent of SAT fee-waiver recipients reported their parents’ highest level of education as a high school diploma or less, compared to 26 percent of non-fee-waiver SAT takers, while 46 percent of SAT fee-waiver recipients reported that English was not exclusively their first language, compared to 23 percent of non-fee-waiver SAT takers.

During the 2011-12 academic year, the College Board expended more than $44 million in fee waivers and related expenses.

SAT Participation and Performance

More than 1.66 million students in the class of 2012 took the SAT, making it the largest class of SAT takers in history.

The number of students taking the SAT in each graduating class has increased 6 percent since 2008, while critical reading scores have declined four points, writing scores have declined five points, and mathematics scores have remained stable during that time.

4 percent of SAT takers in the class of 2012 achieved an SAT score between 2100–2400. 360 SAT takers in the class of 2012 (0.022%) achieved the highest possible score (2400). The 2012 College-Bound Seniors Total Group Profile Report and State Profile Reports are available on the College Board’s Research & Development website at: http://research.collegeboard.org/programs/sat/data.

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