Education Report Roundup

Do State Exit Exams Hurt Scores on SAT?

By Kevin Bushweller — September 22, 2004 1 min read

States that require exit exams for high school graduation could be inadvertently causing their students to score lower on the SAT, a new study suggests.

View the paper, “The Relationship of High School Graduation Exams to Graduation Rates and SAT Scores,” from Ball State University. (Requires Adobe’s Acrobat Reader.)

Conducted by professors of educational psychology at Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., the study found that the average combined verbal and math score on the SAT in states with exit exams was 34 points lower than the average score in states without exit exams.

According to the authors, a possible explanation for the finding is that most exit exams are achievement tests covering specific standards or content knowledge, while the college-entrance exam is a test of reasoning. In focusing on exit-exam content knowledge, the study speculates, educators may be neglecting more innovative teaching practices that improve reasoning and critical-thinking skills.