SAT reading scores for graduating high school seniors this year reached the lowest point in nearly four decades, reflecting a steady decline in performance in that subject on the college admissions test, the College Board reported Wednesday.
Nationally, the reading score for the Class of 2011, including public- and private-school students, was 497, down three points from the previous year and 33 points from 1972, the earliest year for which comparisons are possible.
The disappointing SAT scores come as schools have made major efforts to raise scores on state standardized tests under the 2002 No Child Left Behind law. Some critics of testing say the intense focus on state reading and math exams has taken its toll on higher-order thinking skills.
“We have score inflation on state tests, because that’s what teachers are drilling, and lower performance elsewhere,” said Bob Schaeffer, spokesman for an advocacy group called FairTest.