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2015 College Board Program Results

Our progress report on expanding access, challenging students to demonstrate readiness for college, and equipping educators for key decisions ahead

Despite growing concerns about testing, assessments linked to opportunity are reaching more students. The following results show that a larger and more diverse group of students than ever is participating in challenging course work and taking advantage of the opportunities associated with College Board programs and assessments.

Press Release for the 2015 College Board Program Results

An overarching priority of national, state, and district-level educators is to ensure that as many students as possible graduate from high school ready for college and career. The College Board shares this goal, as it has for more than 110 years. We believe that by providing opportunities to all students, especially those who need them most, we can achieve this goal together.

Our programs enable students to take on challenges and demonstrate their hard work and achievements, help educators get students ready for college, and yield valuable information to help students succeed. Equally important, these programs provide tangible benefits such as access to scholarships or college credit.

There is a lot of focus on testing right now. Many parents and education leaders believe that students are being tested too much. We understand that thinking and strongly believe that every assessment must open doors of opportunity, and every student has the right to know that what’s on the test truly matters.

In March 2014, the College Board announced it would redesign the SAT® and PSAT/NMSQT®, and introduce the PSAT™ 10 and PSAT™ 8/9 to focus on the things that recent data show matter most for success in college and career. A similar focus on depth over breadth is informing the redesign of Advanced Placement® (AP®) course frameworks and exams so that teachers and students can take more time to practice the reasoning skills required for college-level work. The SAT Suite of Assessments and AP courses share a foundational emphasis on evidence-based reading and writing and real-world context and application.

These redesigned courses and assessments will launch on a rolling basis, with the first administration of the PSAT/NMSQT and PSAT 8/9 coming in October 2015 and the PSAT 10 and the SAT in March 2016. Redesigned courses and exams in AP Art History and AP European History, along with a new course, AP Research, part of the AP Capstone™ Program, will launch for the 2015-16 school year.

The following report presents outcomes from the College Board’s foundational programs for propelling students toward college and career. By focusing on these — the PSAT/NMSQT, the SAT, and AP — the 2015 College Board Program Results highlight student and state accomplishments and indicate areas for attention and improvement.



The PSAT/NMSQT measures a similar domain of knowledge as the SAT, while featuring content that is appropriate to grades 10 and 11.

The PSAT/NMSQT plays a critical, unifying role among College Board programs. In measuring the skills that research shows are critical for college success, it is designed to ensure students’ successful transition to college. It opens doors for improved instruction, identifies students who are ready for college-level course work, and provides access to over $180 million in scholarships.

PSAT/NMSQT results are the best predictor of a student’s potential to succeed in certain AP courses.Footnote 1 From these results, educators can identify students with a 60% or higher likelihood of succeeding in particular AP subjects. Using such data, schools, districts, and states can support access to AP for all academically prepared students.


The SAT is a proven and trusted indicator of college readiness and success for students from all backgrounds. It provides students and K–12 educators with a consistent, standard measure for assessing college readiness and a fair and valid indicator of likely college success. Nearly all four-year colleges and universities use the SAT to evaluate their applicants.

The SAT College and Career Readiness Benchmark indicates a student’s readiness to enter college or career-training programs and to succeed in credit-bearing, entry-level college courses. In fact, high school graduates who reach the benchmark are more likely both to enroll in a four-year college and to graduate on time than those who do not meet the benchmark.Footnote 2


The Advanced Placement Program® (AP), offers students the opportunity to pursue college-level course work while still in high school. In AP classrooms, students examine texts, data, and evidence; learn to analyze source material; develop and test hypotheses; and craft effective arguments. They engage in intense discussions, solve problems together, and learn to write and speak clearly and persuasively.

AP Exams are a combination of multiple-choice and free-response questions that assess student learning across a range of learning objectives. The questions are developed, reviewed, and approved by committees of subject-matter experts, including college faculty and AP teachers.

Students who do well on AP Exams are more likely to graduate from college on time and have the potential to save time and money through placement and credit-granting policies.Footnote 3

By looking at the 2014-15 results from these three programs individually and collectively, policymakers, educators, and the College Board can work together to identify and dismantle the obstacles that prevent students from realizing their full potential.

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About the Data


Return to footnote 1 referrer. Ewing, Camara, and Millsap (2006). The Relationship Between PSAT/NMSQT Scores and AP Examination Grades: A Follow-Up Study. (

Return to footnote 2 referrer.

Return to footnote 3 referrer. Research Studies: Hargrove, Godin, and Dodd (2008); Mattern, Marini, and Shaw (2013); Morgan and Klaric (2007); Murphy and Dodd (2009).