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The U.S. Technology Skills Gap: What Every Technology Executive Must Know to Save America's Future, + Website by Gary J. Beach

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CHAPTER 7

1963: SAT Down

The long decline in college board scores has been to education what the Pennsylvania Legionnaire's Disease was to medicine—a mystery that prompts endless speculation and no final answer.

—DAVID G. SAVAGE, “THE LONG DECLINE IN SAT SCORES”1

Writing this book has stirred lots of memories for me—like sitting in the overcrowded classrooms of the 1950s, taught by teachers more intent on completing the math or science textbook before the end of the school year than on making sure the students actually understood what was being taught. Another memory is walking into a musty high school cafeteria on a Saturday morning to take the SAT by filling in circles with a number-two pencil. I was a good student in high school, placing in the top 20 in my class of 300 students. But I never tested well.

The History of the SAT

The SAT was introduced into American society by the College Entrance Examination Board in 1926. Twenty-one years later, the Educational Testing Service in New Jersey became the test's official administrator. Although SAT originally stood for Scholastic Aptitude Test, the name was changed to Scholastic Assessment Test in 1994 after an academic debate about the test's nomenclature. The SAT now measures three areas instead of two: math, critical reading (what used to be called verbal), and writing, which was added in 2005. Each area is scored on a 200–800 range.

Asleep at the Wheel for 14 Years

In the spring of 1963, six months after President Kennedy's ...

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