The Expanding Racial Scoring Gap on SAT II Subject Tests

Over the past several weeks, JBHE reported the large racial scoring gaps on SAT II subject tests. These tests are taken usually by only the cream of the crop of college-bound students, those applying to the nation’s highest-ranked colleges and universities.

Another important point to consider is whether the racial scoring gap on these tests is shrinking or expanding. Unfortunately, the news is not good. On the 12 most popular SAT II tests listed in the accompanying table, the racial scoring gap has increased on 10 of the 12 tests over the past seven years. On the physics test the racial scoring gap has remained the same over the past seven years. Blacks have made slight progress in lowering the racial scoring gap only on the world history examination.

The largest increase in the racial scoring gap has been on the Latin test. In 1999 the racial gap was only 15 points. It has now opened up to 45 points. The gaps have also opened significantly on the Spanish and French tests. Thus, while blacks generally do well on the foreign language tests compared to whites, the gap between the two groups is widening on these tests at a faster rate than in other subject areas.