Reading & Reacting: The bottom line on SAT scores in one chart

Photo: 35 - Get Ready, Get Set, Write

35 – Get Ready, Get Set, Write – cc licensed ( BY NC ) flickr photo by
Melanie Holtsman

By Valerie Strauss @ The Washington Post’s The Answer Sheet

In Strauss’ latest post on SAT scores, which includes a chart detailing scores coordinated with median family income, and this statement.

Here, in one chart, is pretty much everything you need to know about who does and doesn’t perform well on the SAT. Kids from the wealthiest families do the best, and the kids from the poorest families do the worst. This pattern applies to virtually every high-stakes standardized test that is given to kids.

Here is an abridged version of the chart, available in the article.

Family Income Total Score
$ 0 –  $20,000 1326
$20,000 – $40,000 1402
$40,000 – $60,000 1461
$60,000 – $80,000 1497
$80,000 – $100,000 1535
$100,000 – $120,000 1569
$120,000 – $140,000 1581
$140,000 – $160,000 1604
$160,000 – $200,000 1625
More than  $200,000 1714
Calculated by FairTest from: College Board, College-Bound Seniors 2013: Total Group Profile Report and College-Bound Seniors 2006: Total Group Profile Report

A chart like this should be alarming enough, without the mentioned pattern that seems to persist with nearly all standardized tests. When this is considered with things like school rankings, is it any wonder that possibilities of upward mobility start to come into serious question?

Here is a chart I made combining some quickly available data including Boston area median family income (2009 data from and 2012 school rankings (2012 data from Boston Magazine) for the top 20 metro communities. Check the sites for more information on how the data was assembled and metrics for the school rankings.

2009 Income Rank Community 2009 Median Family Income 2012 High School Rank Community Public High School
1 Sherborn $186,058 3 Dover-Sherborn Regional
2 Weston $176,090 1 Weston High
3 Carlisle $170,134 4 Concord-Carlisle High
4 Dover $169,038 3 Dover-Sherborn Regional
5 Wellesley $166,815 5 Wellesley Senior High
6 Boxford $166,761 9 Acton-Boxborough Regional
7 Winchester $157,878 17 Winchester High
8 Sudbury $157,778 16 Lincoln-Sudbury Regional
9 Concord $157,538 4 Concord-Carlisle High
10 Wayland $152,574 6 Wayland High
11 Lexington $152,052 2 Lexington High
12 Harvard $150,396  – Unlisted
13 Southborough $148,750 24 Algonquin High
14 Hopkinton $147,703 23 Hopkinton High
15 Needham $146,408 14 Needham High
16 Wenham $143,750 19 Hamilton-Wenham Regional
17 Bolton $143,063 35 Nashoba Regional
18 Cohasset $142,273 29 Cohasset Middle/High School
19 Andover $138,475 27 Andover High
20 Westwood $137,527 13 Westwood High

Unfortunately, the data is not from the same year, but I am not sure that it makes much of a difference. Looking at the list of communities based on income is unlikely to have changed radically. What becomes obvious is that even in the state of Massachusetts, one of the highest performing education states in the nation, nothing talks like money and a student’s public education.

Yet, College Board CEO David Coleman is going to revamp the SAT to align with all those other Common Core tests that are coming to a public school near you. I wonder how much wider the gap will be between income and scores after all of that.

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