As waves of reforms and would-be reforms have washed over American public education these past three decades, high schools have mostly stayed dry. Although test scores have risen slightly in the early grades, especially in math, National Assessment results for twelfth-graders have been flat or down a bit. SAT scores are also flat, and ACT averages much the same.
ACT, the organization that administers the college-entrance test of the same name, judges only one-quarter of its test-takers to be fully ready for college-level academics, and the College Board is not much cheerier. In releasing SAT results for the 1.6 million members of the high-school class of 2013 who took the test, the board estimated that just 43 percent met its benchmark for college- and career-readiness — a score of 1550 or better (out of 2400), which translates to a 65 percent chance of having a B– (or better) GPA during the freshman year in college.