Matt's Past SAT/ACT News Update:

Matt O'Connor

Sep 07, 2017

ACT has released its testing report for the class of 2017. The total number of students in the 2017 graduating class who took the ACT during high school declined slightly (-2.9%) from last year:

2016 2,090,342
2017 2,030,038

The composite ACT score ticked up to 21. It had been 20.8 in 2016, and 21 in 2015 and 2014.

Here are the links to the ACT items:

ACT. Inc. - The Condition of College and Career Readiness 2017 (main page for announcement)

ACT Profile Report - National - Class of 2017 (pdf)

ACT 2017 - Average scores, by state (pdf)

ACT Condition of College and Career Readiness (pdf)

Here is Inside Higher Ed's Scott Jaschik's take on the 2017 ACT report:

ACT Scores Are Up - But gaps remain, based on levels of preparedness and by race and ethnicity

Here is a Nick Anderson Washington Post article about the 2017 ACT scores:

‘We didn’t know it was this bad’: New ACT scores show huge achievement gaps

The College Board will release the 2017 SAT testing report later this month. As the contract wins for the SAT in Illinois, Michigan, Colorado and NYC come to be reflected in the testing report, the gap with the ACT should close somewhat.

The US News Best Colleges rankings will be released on September 12th.

From Education Week, an article titled Have SAT Accommodations Gone Too Far?


Under a new process, the College Board, which is the official SAT developer, will approve SAT accommodation requests, the most sought-after of which is extra time, for the vast majority of students whose plans already allow accommodations for school tests. Though the change took place in January, the first SAT of this school year under the new policy—which also applies to the PSAT, SAT subject tests, and Advanced Placement exams—is this month. English-language learners who take a state-funded SAT during the school day can also get extended time starting this fall.

The College Board’s allowance of accommodations has grown in recent years. The board received (and approved 85 percent of) around 80,000 accommodation requests in 2010-11 and 160,000 requests in 2015-16... Where will it end, especially with planned accommodations for English-language learners? Will we reach a tipping point when we must acknowledge that the SAT is no longer standardized?

As long as we continue to require tests for students, call me a validity-in-testing advocate. It’s important that we define what, exactly, is being tested before we can figure out how certain students should be tested. The new policy raises two essential questions: First, who decides which students get "accommodations?" Second, what do results mean when time constraints vary among students?

Since the SAT tests performance within a specific time, the new policy seems to be a modification that changes what is tested and creates, in essence, a different test. Allowing more time on a timed test is like changing font size on an eye exam. It’s no longer the same test.

The College Board owes it to students and educators to clarify: Is timing essential to what the SAT measures? Or is timing merely for administrative convenience? That is, is extended time an accommodation or a modification?

From The Chicago Tribune, an interesting article looking at how colleges "game" the rankings.

Oh what a tangled web schools weave: The college rankings game


...what counts as an application? Some schools have a two-part application, with the second part containing all we usually think of as an application, and the first part is merely a postcard or email expressing interest. There is little doubt that some schools report the first part as an application. No recommendation letters, grades, essays or test scores but, yes, an application.

Some schools have delayed admissions, with students admitted not for the fall but for the spring or for the following year, and they are then counted as rejected because they were not admitted for the fall.

And here’s a new trick: Some selective schools go to supposed “wait lists” long before the national response date of May 1. If a student is unlikely to come — say, because her scores are way above your school’s average — put her on the wait list, then call the next day and tell her that if she decides right then to accept an offer of admission, she is in. If she asks to think about it, go on to the next applicant. No wonder the yield off the wait list is so high. Unless a student agrees to come, she was never admitted!

This practice is troubling even in June, after deposits from admitted students are due. But to do it in early April is even worse. It is a gimmick designed to deceptively lower your admit rate, allowing you to claim to be more selective than you are.

[End excerpts]

The article also mentions questionable practices regarding test scores, reputational rankings, graduation rates, and alumni giving rates.

NPR has a feature about the recently-held August SAT date. As described in previously-shared articles, there were far fewer test centers open for this SAT administration than for typical "national" SAT dates. The ACT has responded by announcing a July test date for 2018.

What You Should Know About The New Summer SAT Listen· (3:54)