Achievement Gap Widens, But Test Aims to Close It

Published December 1, 2000

The College Board’s report of a three-point increase on the math SAT is equivalent to getting an additional one-third of a question correct, notes test prep expert Dr. Gary Gruber.

Moreover, the score increase obscures the widening gap between the scores of white and minority students over the past decade. That gap grew despite the adoption of National Education Goals in the 1990s and the expenditure of more than $10 billion a year to boost minority achievement under the federal Title I program.

The situation is bleakest for black children: The black-white gap on the verbal SAT was 91 points in 1990 but is now 94, and a 96-point math SAT gap has widened to 104 points. Latino children scored 60 points below whites on the verbal SAT in 1990 but now score 67 points below; on the math SAT, the Latino-white gap has widened from 51 points to 63 points.

“The gaps among different ethnic groups are widening,” warned Gruber, who has written over 30 books on test preparation that have sold over 8 million copies. “Getting one-third of a question correct is not a time to rejoice, but a time to examine how we can really impact student’s scores across the board.”

Gruber has helped design an SAT prep course for TestU, a company formed in August 1999 by a group of educators who wanted to “democratize” education via the Internet. TestU’s aim is to provide universal access to high quality and affordable test preparation for the SAT, TOEFL, ACT, and state exit exams such as the New York Regents Exam. The company has enrolled 12,000 students in its customized SAT course.

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about TestU, visit its Web site at