SAT Scores by State
This section explores the performance of California's high school
seniors on the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT). The SAT provides colleges
a common measure of student aptitude for college-that is, the test is
designed to forecast student success in higher education.
As with the NAEP, a number of factors influence student SAT scores.
For example, the percentage of students in each state who take the test
varies significantly. As the percentage of the senior class taking the
test increases, SAT scores usually decline somewhat as more
lower-performing students choose to take the test.
SAT tests have been accused of being biased-that questions assume
certain cultural information that not all students possess. The tests
have been changed over the years in response to this concern. In the
absence of other data sources, we believe that scores still provide
important information about the capabilities of college bound students.
As the next three figures indicate, California seniors do relatively
well on the SAT. The overall scores. however, mask quite different
student performance when scores are examined along racial or ethnic
Unfortunately, the data do not Permit investigation into factors
other than race and ethnicity, such as poverty.
- California's average SAT score was virtually the same as the
national average in 1990. Its average score exceeded three of the four
- California's score was higher than the scores of the two states
with similar percentages of students tested-Florida (15 points) and
Texas (23 points).
- New York's average score is impressive, considering that
half-again as many seniors took the SAT as in California.
- This figure (fig. 15) displays 1990 mathematics and verbal SAT
scores for California and the nation.
- California students score about eight points higher on the
mathematics portion of the test and about eight points lower on
the verbal part.
- Lower verbal scores may be due at least in part to the higher
percentage of students in California who speak a language other than
English at home.