Home / Education / SAT/ACT Scores Fall in 2012, Now Below 1972 Scores
Print Friendly and PDF

SAT/ACT Scores Fall in 2012, Now Below 1972 Scores

Written by Gary North on September 25, 2012

The SAT and ACT exams judge college preparedness of American high school seniors. Verbal scores were down this year. Math scores were stagnant.

Of those students taking the SAT or ACT exams, only 25% were judged college-ready in 2012.

This decline is older than 1972. The peak year was 1963. This is what few people know.

National score data for the SAT are first available for 1952. Between then and 1963, SAT test scores held constant or even increased, despite the fact that the proportion of high-school students taking the SAT rose from 7% in 1952 to 30% in 1963, and thus that many less-qualified students were taking the test. It seems reasonable to conclude that the quality of American education held steady or even increased a bit during those years. In 1964, scores declined, and by 1970, national average scores on the verbal aptitude portion of the SAT had fallen from 478 out of a possible 800 to 460; mathematical aptitude scores fell from 502 to 488. When millions of people are taking the test, even a small variation in the average can be significant. By 1977, verbal scores were down to 429, math scores to 470. By 1981, scores had declined for 19 consecutive years; verbal scores had fallen a total of 54 points to 424, math scores had fallen 36 points to 466. In 1982, for the first time in two decades, scores rose; math by one point, verbal scores by two.

The standard academic argument from defenders of the public schools is this: because more students take the exam each year, scores decline. But far more students took it in 1963 than in 1952, yet scores improved.

The public schools have failed. This failure is now 49 years old.

James Montoya, a vice president of the College Board, said the results are a “call to action” for students, parents and schools to ensure more teenagers enroll in a core curriculum. “There are many students who have the potential to succeed in college, but they are not being supported by our education system,” he said.

There is a “call to action” every year. The action never comes. The school system deteriorates.

Continue Reading on online.wsj.com

Print Friendly and PDF

Posting Policy:
We have no tolerance for comments containing violence, racism, vulgarity, profanity, all caps, or discourteous behavior. Thank you for partnering with us to maintain a courteous and useful public environment where we can engage in reasonable discourse. Read more.

18 thoughts on “SAT/ACT Scores Fall in 2012, Now Below 1972 Scores

  1. Texas Chris says:

    The public education system fails for two reasons:

    1) It is tax-funded, not CONSUMER funded. The service provider does not answer at any point to the consumer, the consumer has little to no choice in providers, and there is no accuntability for how the tax funds are spent.

    2) It is a one-size-fits-all, centrally planned system. Which means it is doomed to fail at least SOME, if not MOST students.

    Schools should be privatly owned, parent and/or scholorship funded, curriculum set by the school (not state), with students able to choose their subject focus, set their own pace, and determine their own peers and classmates.

    But above all, they should not be compulsory or state-planned.

  2. If teachers don't know the subjects they are suppose to be teaching HOW can the students learn ,, answer me that stupid greedy teachers union !!!!!!!!

  3. Home-school! A younger couple we know moved from the big city to a rural mountain community to focus on the important things in raising their 2 daughters, beginning with teaching them at home. The oldest, who is 14, is already at work on her first novel. Gary has written in the past about the Robinson family curriculum, a complete K-12 curriculum that costs about $200. Compare that to the 10's of $1000's spent per capita in public schools to institutionalize mediocrity and failure.

  4. Patriot1776 says:

    The result of allowing the Federal Government to control anything. It is way past time for the citizens to take action, claim back our children, our economy, our country and work to provide a future for our children and grandchildren that allows the freedoms and liberties our Founding Fathers intended. This once great nation can be restored if "We, the People" are willing to work toward making the changes necessary and ending the dependence on government to provide.

  5. Certainly if you're able, but I know someone who suffered a near complete meltdown trying to do it.

  6. I've also heard of like-minded families pooling their funds to hire a private tutor, with student-teacher ratios being 5-to-1. I agree, it's a HUGE commitment for parents who have to make a living on top of all their other responsibilities. It's just when you see the spectacle of the Chicago teachers strike, you see a lot of dregs who go into the profession for the perks, pensions, workshops and conventions in exotic places. Turning out educated kids to compete in a global economy is waayy down the list of reasons they became "teachers".

  7. These are all admirable comments, but in reality demographic changes in the population of the United States (fueled by massive Mexican immigration) are driving scores down, not the quality of public schools (the quality of which is determined by, basically, how many non-Asian minorities that attend). "Good schools" is a euphemism for schools that have lots of whites and asians and help fuel real estate prices.

    Read the Bell Curve by Murray, then "bad students, bad schools" by Bob Weissberg to start defusing big government ideas about education. Then contribute to candidates and organizations that are against both legal and illegal immigration.

  8. The only thing I disagree with you on is the last sentence……education should be compulsory…..every one needs to have a basic education and be proficient in science, math, English, history, geography. Not everyone is college material. Some would be better served by attending trade schools. When I graduated from high school in 1966, there were programs available where a kid could choose either the college track or given the opportunity to attend a trade school to learn skills which would assure him/her to acquire the necessary skills to get a decent job and make a decent living.
    These programs are no longer available and kids are pushed into college to only come out with liberal arts degrees and then go flip burgers for a living. A total waste of time and money.
    And the answer by the teacher unions? Dump more money into a losing system. And this they do with their very tired battle cry: For the children!
    Hogwash. It is for THEM and NOT the kids!

  9. Amen to that!!!!

  10. Patriot1776 says:

    So it isn't the school's inability to teach fundamental math, reading and science, it is that the student's themselves are unable to learn? If a portion of the student's are failing, while the majority are passing, that is a sign that the process is working. If the average is decreasing, the process is failing and something must be changed to fix the shift. The education system is broken. Government involvement, unions, teachers, students and parents all share in the fault. Government doesn't belong, unions add nothing of value to the system. Parents, students and teachers have to drive the change.

  11. Education is failing in America and Americans are letting it happen, WHY?

  12. Patriot1776 says:

    Apparently because it is easier to allow it to fail and look around for someone to blame than to actually do something about it.

  13. "school's inability to teach fundamental math, reading and science"

    Teachers teach.

    "it is that the student's themselves are unable to learn"

    Some learn quick (high IQ). Some learn slow (low IQ.) Some are more likely to be disruptive to the learning process. Some are less.

    "If the average is decreasing, the process is failing and something must be changed to fix the shift."

    Garbage in = garbage out. You change the inputs, you change the averages. Since whites have dropped from 90% of the pop to 65%, the averages have moved lower. Bell Curve again.

    "Government involvement, unions, teachers, students and parents all share in the fault."
    The composition of the student body apparently shares no responsibility, despite all evidence to the contrary. Again, we are talking about a rather large population to base this on, namely the population of every student in the United States.

    "unions add nothing of value to the system"
    Depends. If a portion of your salary was determined by attempting to get more blood from a stone, you might appreciate being represented by a union.

  14. Of course scores have fallen. Since Obama took office, all the student have learned that, no matter what happens, or how unproductive you are, the government will feed, clothe, house, and medicate you. Why struggle to get ahead when Obama will just redistribute your earnings out of your pocket and give them to somneone who doesn't work at all, who isn't qualified for any job whatsoever?

  15. ccfonten — you have hit the nail on the head. When we compare ourselves with other countries, they have already funneled the kids who are not college material out in 8th grade. Now we compare our entire school population to their best. Apples and oranges! Add the fact that we have hippie grandparents and parents telling their kids that they don’t need an education (oh yes they are out there in volumns). Add again students who speak no English at all and are resistant to learning (their parents never will speak English). Add to that all the crack-babies who will never get any better and the parents who make their kids crazy so they can draw $800 per month for each and now mommie and daddy can smoke their crack and everything is paid for. Time to blame the school system. I know there are bad systems, principals, superintendents, school boards, bad teachers, etc. But the teachers I work with are miracle-workers given what we have to deal with each and every day.

  16. Klejdys — you are right on! I saw it happen right before my very eyes aand in less than 10 years.

  17. To Sutekh — I actually had an illegal from Mexico ask me why he would become a citizen if he can get everything free now. Was I stupid? This boy had just had a baby with another illegal and the baby had medical problems. The baby was flown to the nearest children's hospital and operated on — all free. At the same time I had a student (Native American) having a baby with an African-American and they had to pay for everything — something is wrong here.
    It will get to the point where I will give up one of my jobs (I am a moonlighting teacher) so I don't have to "share the wealth."

  18. Danno — in home-schooling you don't have to be politically correct. Nor do you have to deal with 504's, Special Ed, non-English speakers, emotionally disturbed, gifted and talented, and the ones who have parents that scare you all in one classroom (Spanish speakers are the ones you better pay attention to). Add in to the mix the fact that you have a curriculum director and principals telling you how to teach and you better not be caught doing anything fun. You can teach three times as much in the same time period if you home school.