By Jay Rosner
Several hundred thousand high school students will take the second administration of the new SAT on May 7. Students who took the first offering on March 5 are still waiting for their scores, which will not be sent to them until later this month.
While the long wait may bother students, there are more significant issues regarding the public's access to critical SAT data. The College Board calls the new SAT “profoundly transparent,” but it won't release so-called item-level data — information about how students nationwide fared on particular questions — to the public. In fact, it hasn't released such statistics since 2000. That makes it difficult for the public to scrutinize why certain demographic groups perform so much better on the SAT than others.
A better SAT, or just a better bottom line for the College Board? On average, we know that boys outscore girls by a few points on the verbal section (recently renamed reading and writing) and by more than 30 points on the math section. We also know that whites outscore blacks and Latinos on verbal (by 98 points and 80 points, respectively) and on math (by 106 points and 76 points, respectively). These gaps have been constant for decades. In recent years, Asian American students have been outscoring white students considerably on math and have reduced their verbal shortfall to a few points — the only gaps to have changed significantly in recent memory.