SAT and ACT minority participation numbers concern educators

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Recent numbers showing how many minorities took college entrance examinations SAT and America College Testing (ACT) concern some educators.

During the 2016-2017 school year, more than 44,000 students in North Carolina took the SAT. Of that number, 26 percent were black students, ten percent Hispanic, and 52 percent were white students.

When it comes to the ACT, more than 2 million students took the test nationwide. Of that number, 13 percent were black students, 16 percent were Hispanic, and 54 percent were white.

"It's just sad that we haven't made as much progress as we should have made given this is 2017," former school board chair Arthur Griffin said.

Griffin believes the minority participation numbers reflect students who don't feel prepared to take those college entrance exams and that school districts need to focus more on getting students ready for life after high school.

"If you don't prepare young people to be successful, then they are not going to get into those universities," Griffin said. "Those youngsters that do get into those universities are going to have to take remedial courses."

Griffin is also concerned the participation numbers will have an impact on students who are born in poverty and escaping it.

"There is not going to be economic mobility if we don't change the paradigm in terms of what a meaningful education is for African-American children in this country and, specifically, in this state and specifically here in Charlotte-Mecklenburg," Griffin said.

Central Piedmont Community College (CPCC) provides prep courses for students. Educators there have also seen the participation numbers.

"I find it disturbing," CPCC Associate Vice President Quincy Foil White said. "It tells me Central Piedmont Community College is an important player in this community and that we need to work even harder to provide access to quality education programs for students in our regions."

White says the group of students taking advantage of prep courses is diverse and believes the numbers show the need for a community college.

"We want all students to be successful," White said. "We hope they come to CPCC. We hope they come to participate in our associate degree and workforce development programs."

To learn more about CPCC's Collegiate Test Prep Opportunities, click here.

Griffin says the programs that are available are good, but he believes the school districts have to do their part to increase participation numbers.

"I haven't met a child yet that does not want to excel, does not want to reach their highest expectations," Griffin said. "what it simply says is we are not teaching children effectively to be successful at the college level or the career level."

The College Board is responding to the numbers and is offering ways it is helping to ensure students of all backgrounds have access to the college entrance exams.

Maria Eugenia Alcón-Heraux, the College Board Director of Media Relations, sent this statement about the College Board's efforts:

The College Board was founded more than 100 years ago on the idea that merit, not privilege, should determine access to higher education. But today, far too many students face barriers  – both visible and invisible – that make it challenging to take advantage of the opportunities they've earned. That's why the College Board has rededicated itself to our original mission: to clear a path for all students to own their future. We know that when we clear a path, students won't just walk – they'll run.  The College Board wants to ensure all students, and especially underrepresented students, take advantage of our SAT Suite of Assessments and all the benefits they provide, including free personalized practice on Khan Academy and college application fee waivers. The SAT Suite reflects what students are already learning in their classrooms and gives students benchmarks for assessing students' progress as they enter and move through high school to propel them to becoming college-ready.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg School (CMS) District is also responding. It says one possible reason for low participation with SAT is that some students are opting out of taking the SAT and just focusing on ACT.

CMS media relations sent this statement:

With the emergence of required ACT testing, subsidized by the state, some students have chosen not to take the SAT.  This decision is left to the student.   Some students choose to take the SAT and ACT, others choose to take the ACT multiple times, others choose to take the ACT only once.  Again, with every student having the opportunity to take the ACT in 11th grade, additional testing as part of the college admissions process is up to the student.

SAT and ACT test dates are in the beginning of December.

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