High-school students' performance on the SAT college-entrance exam fell slightly, and the score gap generally widened between lower-performing minority groups and white and Asian-American students, raising questions about the effectiveness of national education reform efforts. Average scores for the class of 2009 in critical reading dropped to 501 from 502, in writing to 493 from 494 and held steady in math, at 515. The combined scores are the lowest this decade and reflect stalled performance over the past three years. The reading scores are the worst since 1994. Many observers viewed the flat results of recent years as discouraging in light of a more than 25-year effort to improve U.S. education. "This is a nearly unrelenting tale of woe and disappointment," said Chester E. Finn Jr., president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a Washington, D.C., think tank. "If there's any good news here, I can't find it." Mr. Finn, a former education official in the Reagan administration, said he expected the results of the SAT and ACT - another college entrance exam - to add fuel to a movement among the nation's governors and school superintendents to come up with consistent national standards for high-school curricula. The SAT scores - which range from 200 to 800 - are closely watched because the standardized test measures the achievement of America's top high-school students. It is the most widely administered college-entrance exam. The fresh data are sure to figure into the debate over President Barack Obama's education agenda and potential changes to the federal No Child Left Behind law, which is up for renewal in Congress.
More minorities take the SAT college entrance exam, but achievement gap doesn't close, scores down