Across the Street: High-stakes testing
September 14, 2017
During the August board meeting of the State Board of Education, the Colorado Department of Education released the Scholastic Aptitude Scores for 2016-17. The SAT, is a standardized test that is administered by the College Board, a nonprofit organization. The test is used by colleges and universities to determine college readiness.
In 2016-17, the SAT was introduced to Colorado 11th-grade students. The new test is reported to be more closely aligned to our state academic standards than previous tests. It can be taken by paper and pencil or by computer. It also relies more on skill and less on "testing taking tricks" than other tests.
The SAT basically measures what a student has learned in math and evidence based reading and writing, or EBRW. In the past, reading and writing earned separate scores, but the new SAT combines reading and writing scores. EBRW and math scores range from 200 to 800 points, making the total combined score range 400 to 1600.
What is a good SAT score?
Colorado requires all high-school juniors to take the SAT test. We are one of eight states to do so. Other states have choice options that may include the SAT. The average Colorado score was 513.4 for EBRW and 500.9 for math. The total combined score for the average student in Colorado was 1014.3.
Let's look at a student who scored 1014 on the combined tests. What schools can the student apply to and feel confident he or she will be accepted? One of our great Western Colorado schools admits students with a combined score between 990 and 1210, with the average score of accepted students at 1100. With a score of 1014, a student has a 97-percent chance of being admitted.
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Harvard University, by comparison, accepts students with a scores between 1470 and 1600, with an average admittance score of 1535. Your chances here would be very slim. A good SAT score, therefore, might be a score that would help you gain admittance to the college of your choice.
The SAT is considered to be a high stakes test for college-bound students. Of course, there are other, less-expensive, career pathways to follow that allow students to enter the workforce and find success. It's a matter of career choice, which may change, throughout a lifetime.
Joyce Rankin is a member of the Colorado State Board of Education representing Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District.