WASHINGTON, Sept. 3 (UPI) -- Scores on the SAT college admissions exam were the lowest this year since the test was overhauled a decade ago, renewing fears about student performance nationwide.
The average for the class of 2015 was 1490 out of a maximum 2400, down some seven points from the previous class' marks and the lowest composite score since 2006. Declines were seen in all three sections -- writing, math and critical reading.
Experts said the shoddy scores reflect the continuing shortcomings of education reform and the growing notion that high school students are not ready for college. At the same time, about 1.7 million class of 2015 students took the SAT, up 1.6 percent from the previous class.
"Why is education reform hitting a wall in high school?" asked Michael J. Petrilli, president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a think tank. "You see this in all kinds of evidence. Kids don't make a whole lot of gains once they're in high school. It certainly should raise an alarm."
Cyndie Schmeiser, chief of assessment for the College Board, said the percentage of students who are seemingly prepared for college has stagnated in the past five years. Just 43 percent of students who took the test reached a score of 1550 or above, a benchmark the College Board uses for college and career readiness.
"Simply doing the same things we have been doing is not going to improve these numbers," Schmeiser said in a statement. "This is a call to action to do something different to propel more students to readiness."
Some highlights from this year's results:
Reading: The average score of 495 is the lowest since the College Board began putting out annual reports in 1972.
Math: The score of 511 is the lowest since 1999. In 1972, the average score was 509.
Writing: The score of 484 is the lowest since this section was introduced in 2006, when the score was 497.
Racial, income gaps: White and Asian students posted higher scores than Hispanic and black students. Students from wealthier families did better than those from poor families.