Can we rate 20 dumbest states in America by SAT scores their students achieve? Many ordinary people would answer positively to this question, but there are plenty of experts that don’t agree that lack of academic success equals lesser intelligence.
SAT scores have been alpha and omega of academic achievements in the United States for decades. Designed as a tool that would help both students and colleges with the admission process, SAT has passed through various changes and is still evolving to better reflect the individual students’ aptitude and college readiness. Yet, in the last decade, there has been a growing number of colleges that have joined so-called SAT optional movement and have dropped the test as a requirement for admission.
SAT critics point out that the test is biased on several levels. One of the best-known examples is cultural bias, demonstrated by the now infamous oarsman regatta analogy. SAT has also been accused of having a high correlation with participants IQ and that in fact measures intelligence, not knowledge. When you rank the smartest states 1 to 50 by average IQ by state, the list is highly similar to that of the states with the highest SAT scores (to learn more, head on to 10 Smartest States in America by SAT Scores). Moreover, you can check out IQ by state map in order to learn more about average IQ in America by state. While it is obvious that smarter kids tend to do better in school, that is far from a rule, and critics rightly point out that tests like SAT, which are designed to rank students according to their ability and preparedness to attend college, shouldn’t measure IQ, let alone use it as a definite marker of someone’s abilities.
But simply taking average SAT score of a state and presenting it as a definite value of its education is wrong. Not all states require each high school graduate to take the test. In fact, a vast majority doesn’t, which creates skewed results if you rank dumbest or smartest states in America by SAT scores alone. The other factor that has to be taken into account is participation rate, the percentage of graduates that take the test. Generally speaking, the lower the participation rates, the higher is the average SAT score because usually, only the best students take the test. In states with higher participation, SAT scores are more reflective of the state’s general achievements, since even the struggling students have to take the SAT.
For instance, if you take a look at the latest SAT scores, the smartest state in America is Minnesota, with an average score of 1295. That’s a whopping 235 points above the United States average. But if you bring participation rate into the picture, the situation changes dramatically. Only 3% of high school seniors took the test in Minnesota, meaning that only 2,061 of Minnesota best and brightest have achieved this amazing score. Compare that to almost 150,000 students that took the test in Florida and it is easy to see how results can easily get warped.
That is why we have taken SAT scores adjusted for participation as our measuring stick for determining the dumbest states in America by SAT scores in 2017, found on Prep Scholar. The same goes for the “dumbest states in America 2016” list. Just to put things into perspective, we included how much money each state spends annually on their students (data from Census Bureau) and we also threw in the Education Weekly’s Quality Counts 2017: State Report Cards survey, which grades each state on the quality of their education, based on various parameters.
Average SAT Score, Adjusted for Participation: 1579
We kick off the list of the dumbest states in America by SAT scores with California. The Golden State ranks 36th in educational spending, with $9,595 spent per student. Education Weekly gave it C- or 69.8% score on quality of its education.