Princeton, NJ–(HISPANIC PR WIRE – BUSINESS WIRE)–April 1, 2005–As the nation’s governors and educators search for ways to improve the achievement of today’s high school students, a new ETS report sheds light on the success of minority “superstar” students who excel on the College Board’s SAT and in school.
“Characteristics of Minority Students Who Excel on the SAT and in the Classroom,” was written by ETS researchers Brent Bridgeman and Cathy Wendler, using data from the national cohort of students who took the College Board’s SAT in 2001.
The researchers explored three questions. Do minority students with high test scores take the same courses as White students with similar test scores? Are they equally successful in these courses? Do minority students who take demanding courses in high school, and succeed in those courses, perform as well on the SAT as White students?
“The answer to all of these questions is ‘yes,'” says Wendler. “Regardless of racial/ethnic group, it is clear that students who excel in rigorous courses tend to get high SAT scores and students who get high SAT scores tend to take and excel in rigorous courses. Taking demanding courses may help students sharpen the reading and mathematical skills assessed by the SAT. At the same time, students cannot succeed in difficult courses if they lack strong reading and mathematical skills.”
The key factors that contribute to superstar status in high school, regardless of race/ethnicity, are:
— Taking demanding courses
— Taking at least one Advanced Placement (AP) course
— Holding a leadership position in extra-curricular activities
— Having at least one parent with a Bachelor’s degree or higher.
“The finding on parental level of education was an interesting one,” says Bridgeman. “Across racial/ethnic groups, most of the highly successful students have at least one parent with a college degree.
However, this is not a necessary condition, because over 20 percent of the highly successful Hispanic and African American students did not have a parent with a college degree.”
Utilizing self-reported data from the College Board’s Student Descriptive Questionnaire, on “intended college major,” researchers found that:
— Engineering is the most popular choice of major among men with high SAT scores
— Biological science is a more popular choice among women than men
— Pre-med is a more common choice among women than men, especially with Asian American and African American women
— Business and computer science are equally popular among all racial/ethnic groups
— Health professions are more popular among students in the low and middle SAT achievement levels
— Regardless of racial/ethnic or gender group, virtually none of the “academic superstars” express an interest in majoring in education.
“If students are to succeed academically in the rigorous courses that they should be taking, quality teachers play an important role,” says Wendler. “But the current results suggest that the ‘academic superstars’ have almost no interest in teaching. We need to reverse this situation to ensure that the next generation of academic superstars has highly qualified teachers, as well as helping to assure that no child is left behind.”
Besides addressing such factors as courses taken, participation in school activities, leadership experiences, academic success, and parental education, the authors also suggest further research on other factors such as teacher preparation and class size, as well as factors before and beyond school such as birth weight, lead poisoning, and reading to young children.
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Tom Ewing, 609-683-2803