2014 College Board Program Results: Overview
Americans of all backgrounds believe that young people need a four-year college degree to be successful, according to a 2013 National Journal/College Board poll.
A look at the 2014 College Board Program Results shows that too many students have missed opportunities that would help them make a successful transition to college — results that have real implications for students, their families, and the future of our nation.
However, these results also reveal areas of great promise for students who have yet to graduate. Along with our members and partners, the College Board is committed to finding solutions to improve outcomes and to help remove barriers in the college-going process for all students. We believe that every student deserves access to the opportunities they have earned, and that assessment can be a platform to propel students into these opportunities.
College Board Program Highlights
Early information about student progress toward college readiness can help students take the steps they need to make a successful transition to college. The PSAT/NMSQT plays a critical, unifying role among College Board programs. In 2013-14, a record 3.7 million students took the PSAT/NMSQT. It is the nation’s largest and most representative precollege assessment, and it is a valuable tool for educators, students, and parents. It opens doors for improved instruction, identifies students who need to get back on track, expands access to challenging course work, and helps ensure more successful transitions to college.
Access to challenging course work is an essential step in college and career readiness. The Advanced Placement Program gives students the opportunity to pursue college-level course work while still in high school. Students who succeed on AP Exams are more likely to graduate college on time, and have the potential to save time and money through placement and credit-granting policies.
A look at the May 2014 AP Exam administration shows:
- 1,478,084 11th and 12th grade public school students took AP in 2014, an increase of 3.8% from last year.
- 408,808 were traditionally underrepresented minority students, an increase of 7.0% from last year.
- 355,379 were low-income students, an increase of 7.3% from last year.
Entrance exams are an important part of the college admission process. The SAT is used in the admission process at nearly all four-year colleges and universities in the United States. When used in combination with high school GPA, SAT scores are shown to be the best predictors of a student’s potential to succeed in college. A look at the SAT class of 2014 shows an increase in overall participation — including among most minority students and students who took the exam using a fee waiver — but stagnant performance for all students overall and persistent gaps in preparation particularly for underrepresented minority students.
- 1,672,395 students from the class of 2014 took the SAT, an increase compared to 1,660,047 students last year.
- Of those students who took the exam, nearly half were minority students: 47.5% (793,986 students) were minority students — an increase from 45.9% in 2013.
- 23.6% of students took the exam using a fee waiver, an increase from 23.4% last year.
- 42.6% of SAT takers in the class of 2014 met the SAT College and Career Readiness Benchmark. This percentage represents those students who are likely to be ready to take college-entry, credit-bearing courses and not need remediation and has remained virtually unchanged over time.
This problem is especially acute among underrepresented minority students.
- 15.8% of African American SAT takers met the benchmark.
- 23.4% of Hispanic SAT takers met the benchmark.
- 33.5% Native American SAT takers met the benchmark.
A Unified Approach
This year, for the first time ever, the College Board has released a unified picture of PSAT/NMSQT, AP, and SAT results. The national and state-level results paint a more complete picture of student progress. The PSAT/NMSQT is the linchpin among the programs, providing a baseline for analyzing student progress and serving as an early indicator of student potential.
A look back at PSAT/NMSQT results for the graduating class of 2014 reveals both potential fulfilled and missed opportunities. In the class of 2014, 684,577 public school students were identified as having AP potential when they took the PSAT/NMSQT. Of these students, 61% actually took at least one matched AP Exam while in high school. Unfortunately, however, 39% of the students who were identified as having potential for succeeding in an AP course did not take a matched one. These are missed opportunities that we must address.
There were also students who fell off target between taking the PSAT/NMSQT and taking the SAT. Like the SAT College and Career Readiness Benchmark, a benchmark score on the PSAT/NMSQT helps identify students who are on track for college readiness.
- Of the 1.67 million SAT takers who graduated in 2014, just over 609,000 took the PSAT/NMSQT in the fall of their junior year and the SAT in the fall of their senior year. 5% of these students were on target for college and career readiness in the 11th grade, but fell off target by the fall of their senior year of high school.
- There was also a group of test-takers in the SAT class of 2014 who were close to meeting the SAT Benchmark. 9% of the 1.67 million SAT takers who graduated in 2014 were within one year’s growth of being on target for college and career readiness. With additional instructional support at the start of their senior year, they could likely have been college and career ready by the time they graduated from high school.
Research shows that applying to two colleges instead of one makes it 40% more likely that a student will enroll in a four-year college. Students who apply to more than two are predicted to improve their chances of enrolling even more. Among SAT takers in the class of 2014, more than 55% sent SAT scores for application to fewer than four colleges.
A Look Forward
A look at the PSAT/NMSQT results for the upcoming class of 2016 — comprising 1,662,939 students who took the exam in 10th grade — shows unprecedented promise and opportunity. That administration of the exam saw the largest and most diverse group ever. Given this larger-than-ever pool of actionable information, how do we ensure that students take advantage of the opportunities ahead?
We know that 673,744 students met the PSAT/NMSQT Benchmark. We know that 491,508 students in the class of 2016 show potential to succeed in AP courses. And we know that many more students will meet the benchmark and show their AP potential after taking the PSAT/NMSQT as 11th-graders. There is still time to ensure that these students who are on track stay on track, and that the students who show potential to succeed in AP take an AP course.
These combined results — with PSAT/NMSQT playing a central role — reinforce the critical need to improve overall college readiness, access, and completion for U.S. students through earlier engagement and support. The College Board is addressing this challenge by redesigning our assessments and demanding more from them — through closer links to challenging course work and by removing barriers. Only then will we see a transformation of missed opportunities to opportunities delivered.