ND Expert: Drop in SAT scores not all bad

Author: Arts and Letters


The recently reported drop in SAT scores nationwide has many educators worried, yet a University of Notre Dame sociologist regards the underlying issues that could account for the scoring dip to be positive.

“The good news outweighs the bad here: Our pool of college applicants is becoming more diverse, both racially and socio-economically, and that is a good thing, given the recent challenges to affirmative action programs at post-secondary schools,” said William Carbonaro, associate professor of sociology.

Carbonaro’s research focuses on how inequality in student outcomes is affected by different learning opportunities between and within schools. He also researches how students’ relationships with their families and peers affect their education.

“The drop in test scores is very small, and we shouldn’t worry about it too much because the SAT is not very good at measuring achievement trends over time,” Carbonaro said.

“We shouldn’t jump to conclusions about how well students are being prepared for college from these data; we have better sources than the SAT for that purpose. The SAT is really one of the first steps toward getting students into four-year college.”

Figures released Tuesday by the College Board, owner of the exam, showed combined critical reading and math scores fell an average of seven points – with critical reading scores slipping from 508 to 503, and math scores dropping from 520 to 518.

Contact: William Carbonaro, 574-631-3633 or wcarbona@nd.edu

Originally published by Susan Guibert at newsinfo.nd.edu on August 31, 2007.