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SAT scores reflect curriculum gap

Posted: September 28, 2012 4:30 a.m.
Updated: September 28, 2012 4:30 a.m.

SAT scores released this week show why students need to exceed high school requirements to be successful in college, College Board officials said Friday.

“The SAT performance of students in the high school class of 2012 really just continues to reinforce the importance of a rigorous high school curriculum,” said Leslie Sepuka, College Board spokeswoman.

“In California, for example, 68 percent of students who completed a ‘core curriculum’ saw a 171-point improvement (on the SAT) over students who hadn’t,” she said.

When looking at the scores, College Board officials compared the results of students who took four or more years of English, three or more years of math, three or more years of natural science and three or more years of history, which are a few of the basic requirements behind the new core curriculum standards.

The Core Curriculum Standards Initiative is a 45-state consortium that is seeking to create a national standard for high school education.

California signed on in 2010, and the state’s Board of Education is expected to require the changes for the 2013-14 school year, according to Tina Jung, spokeswoman for the state’s Department of Education.

Current high school graduation requirements in California mandate two years of math and three years of English.

The SAT is given to high school students in their junior and senior years, with their scores playing a large role — how large often depending on the university — in the college admissions and how financial aid is rewarded.

“We feel it’s a very valuable tool,” said Dave LeBarron, it’s not a ‘necessary evil’ — it’s something that we want students to do well on and prepare for.”

The College Board is an educational organization that writes the SAT, PSAT and several other standardized tests for high school students, including Advanced Placement exams.

The SAT, which is actually an empty acronym, used to stand for Scholastic Assessment Test. Scores on the test range from 400-2,400.

The three-section exam tests hundreds of thousands of students each year on their reading, writing and math skills.  
“(The SAT) is the second most important measure behind your grades,” said Arun Ponnusammy, director for College Wise, a company that guides parents and children through the college-application process.

“But, of course, grades take four years — and the SAT takes four hours.”

College Board statistics also bear this out to a large extent, company officials said.

The SAT “benchmark score” of 1550 on the SAT indicates a 65 percent likelihood a student can achieve a “B-” average or higher during the first year of study at a four-year college, according to College Board officials.

Sepuka urged parents to become more involved in their children’s course selections and recommended the College Board’s website, which offers myriad checklists for parents and teens looking into college — what to look when at a campus, what courses are recommended and how to improve an application essay.

“For parents, it’s really important for them to be aware that taking the most rigorous course path available is important,” Sepuka said. “We hope that there’s a lot of awareness around this. We kind of see it as a call to action.”


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