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Minority Contributions to the SAT Score Turnaround: An Example of Simpson's Paradox SAT

Wainer, Howard
Publication Year:
Report Number:
RR-85-36, PSRTR-85-61
ETS Research Report
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
Minority Groups, Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), Scores, Simpson's Paradox, Statistical Analysis


Since 1980 the decline in SAT scores has stopped and the scores have started to creep back up. The scores for White Americans have increased 8 points during this period, for nonwhites 15 points. It was, thus, surprising to discover that the overall mean increased only 7 points. This is not an arithmetic error but rather an example of a well-known statistical phenomenon called Simpson's Paradox. In this note we explain the paradox and describe a method which will avoid it in the future. (15pp.)

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