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Standardized Testing Statistics

What are standardized test scores? How does standardized testing work, and how do the test scores impact students and their? Keep reading to find information and statistics associated with standardized testing.

To gain some idea about the use of standardized test scores in the United States, here are some statistics to help form a picture. We’ll look at the national assessment and standardized-assessment used in college admissions.

National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP)

NAEP is the only national assessment in the United States that is both representative and continuing. It is given in reading, mathematics, writing, science, the arts, civics, economics, U.S. history, and geography. Because the results can be compared across all the states, the report on the NAEP administration is sometimes referred to as “The Nation’s Report Card.”

  • In 2004, the average reading score for 9-year-olds was 219, for 13-year-olds was 259, and for 17-year-olds was 285.
  • In 2004, girls’ average reading scores were better than boys' at all three ages.
  • In 2005, the average science score for 4th graders was 151, for 8th graders was 149, and for 12th graders was 147.
  • In 2005, boys’ average science scores were better than girls’ at all three ages.
  • In 2004, the average mathematics score for 9-year-olds was 241, for 13-year-olds was 281, and for 17-year-olds was 307.
  • In 2004, boys’ average mathematics scores were better than girls’ at all three ages.

College Entrance

The use of standardized testing in for college admissions is an area of testing that has perennial attention, as each year thousands and thousands of high school juniors and seniors take and retake the SAT and ACT in the hopes that it will boost their chance of getting into the college of their choice. Here are some statistics about the SAT:

• The mean SAT scores for college-bound high school seniors in 2007 was:

  • 515 in Mathematics
  • 502 in Critical Reading
  • 494 in Writing

• In 2007, the highest mean Mathematics scores were obtained by Asian students; the highest mean Critical Reading and Writing scores, by White students.

• In 2007, students with a parent who had a bachelor’s degree scored 18-20 points above the mean for all students, depending on the test (Critical Reading, Mathematics, Writing), and students with a parent who had a graduate degree scored 54 or 58 points above the mean, depending on the test. Students whose parents had obtained an associates degree or  less education scored below the mean.

• In 2007, college bound seniors with a high school GPA up to B+ scored below the mean scores for all students, while students with a GPA of A-, A, and A+ scored above the mean.

• In 2007, every high school graduate in Maine took the SAT Reasoning Test, while only 3% of students in South Dakota-the state with the lowest percentage of test-takers did. Overall, 48% of graduating high school seniors took the SAT Reasoning Test in 2007.

• In 2007, the state with the highest mean score in:

  • Critical Reading was Iowa (608), where only 4% of graduating high school seniors took the test.
  • Mathematics was Iowa (613), where only 4% of graduating high school seniors took the test.
  • Writing was Illinois (588), where only 8% of graduating high school seniors took the test.

• In 1967, the mean score for Critical Reading was 543 and for Mathematics was 516.  In 2007, the mean score for Critical Reading was 502 and for Mathematics was 515.  The Writing test was first reported in 2006.

FairTest, which opposed the use of the standardized testing in college admissions, reported in 2008 that 775 four-year colleges have backed off the use of SAT I and ACT in their admissions, and that it is not a factor in considering a substantial number of students to whom they grant admission. FairTest reports that most schools are pleased with the admissions results.

Institutions on the list include Bard College, Bates College, Bennington College, Bowdoin College, Juilliard School, Lake Forest College, Middlebury College, Saint Lawrence University, Texas A&M, University of Texas, Wheaton College, and many, many others.


FairTest: The National Center for Fair and Open Testing: Test Scores Do Not Equal Merit: Executive Summary

The College Board: Tables & Related Items 2007

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES): Digest of Education Statistics

The Center for Public Education: “U.S. students perform well on latest writing assessment”

Written by Mary Elizabeth