The Widening Racial Scoring Gap in SAT II Subject Tests

Over the past nine years the racial scoring gap has increased on 10 of the 11 most widely taken SAT subject tests. The only exception is the physics test where the racial gap over the past nine years has remained the same at 80 points.

The largest unfavorable increase in the racial scoring gap has been on the biology SAT II subject test. On this test in 1999 the racial gap was 67 points. It has now opened up to 101 points. The racial scoring gaps have also opened significantly on the Spanish, French, and Latin foreign language tests. The racial gap has also increased on tests for mathematics, chemistry, and American history.

One reason for the widening racial gaps on these tests may be that a broader cross-section of black high school students now take the SAT II tests than was the case nine years ago. As the pool expands to a greater number of students who traditionally have not taken these tests, it is expected that the mean score will decline, and this will result in a widening of the racial scoring gap.