kitchen table math, the sequel: no change in ACT math scores

Friday, September 9, 2011

no change in ACT math scores

speaking of rigged...

change in SAT math scores:
Between 1996 and 2005, the average [SAT] mathematics score increased for all racial/ethnic groups. During this time, the score for Asian/Pacific Islander students increased by 22 points, from 558 to 580. Mathematics scores for White, Puerto Rican, and American Indian/Alaska Native students increased between 12 and 16 points, while Black, Mexican American, and Other Hispanic/Latino students experienced smaller increases, between 3 and 9 points. (p. 77)
no change in ACT math scores:
Unlike SAT mathematics scores, ACT mathematics scores have not increased over time. (p. 81)
The majority of students who take the ACT live in the Midwest, Rocky Mountains, Plains, and southern regions of the country (ACT 2005a). The SAT is more prevalent on the east and west coasts and in the Northeast (SAT 2005a).
p. 76
Status and Trends in the Education of Racial and Ethnic Minorities
National Center for Education Statistics
September 2007
Should American parents have their kids take the ACT?


SteveH said...

"Should American parents have their kids take the ACT?"

Is there a downside to taking both? Is the SAT more competitive? Is the correlation of scores between SAT and ACT not accurate?

My niece (Michigan) took the ACT and got a score of 34. She was quite surprised. According to the concordance table, this equates to a SAT score range of 1490-1530. She is not really a 750 math SAT student.

She didn't take it again or take the SAT ... or any achievement tests. She quit while she was ahead.

SteveH said...

From the ACT website's description of the concordance tables.

"The tables are useful for determining the cutoff score on one test that results in approximately the same proportion of students selected by the other test (although not necessarily the same students)."

... "not necessarily the same students"

"Concordant ACT and SAT scores may vary significantly across students and colleges. Students included in this study are not necessarily representative of the students at a particular institution. Because of this, an institution might wish to investigate the relationship between ACT and SAT scores of its students."


It appears that there is no correction based on comparing real scores from individuals. I can't imagine that colleges use this table to compare applicants if they claim that they don't care which scores are submitted. Does anyone know if colleges have their own concordance tables?

It could be that other information matters more if an applicant is on the acceptance bubble. If, however, the SAT scores are rising due to competition and/or cheating, and if schools use the percentile concordance tables, then the ACT may be the way to go. I plan on doing my own side-by-side comparison of the two tests.

Crimson Wife said...

The SAT has been rejiggered at least twice since I took in in the early '90's. I don't believe that the ACT has changed during this time frame. When scores are rising on the test that has changed but not on the one that has remained the same, I would be dubious about how much the rise reflects actual achievement vs. the changes in the test.

Allison said...

If you don't live in the midwest, or aren't applying in the midwest, admissions depts are going to wonder why you take the ACT but not the SAT.

Remember that the SAT was recentered so that a 500 was the 50th percentile on the exam. The SAT population may have very different characteristics than the ACT--I would think the racial demographic would be very different, though I've not the time to look it up right now. So that ACT scores haven't increased vs SAT may reflect that the people taking it haven't increased their math knowledge one way or the other either. Comparison to the population doesn't make someone likely to do better on the exam unless there's some reason to think you'd compare favorably.

While the ACT may publish a concordance, it doesn't mean colleges reference that concordance. They may simply compare ACT takers against other ACT takers, rather than against SAT takers.

SteveH said...

"While the ACT may publish a concordance, it doesn't mean colleges reference that concordance. They may simply compare ACT takers against other ACT takers, rather than against SAT takers."

At some point they have to sort ACT and SAT applicants. If they don't do it on a percentile basis (as with the concordance), then they must have some other information that they use. If an eastern college gets an ACT score from an eastern applicant, the assumption seems to be that it is a negative sign; that the ACT population is not as strong as the SAT population academically. Is that true?

Colleges claim that they don't care which scores you submit. If I had to create a selection process, I would define a larger band of scores for applicants on the bubble to study in detail. The width of that band would take into account uncertainties between ACT and SAT applicants. But even at this point, are ACT scores a positive or a negative. Do colleges like what the SAT tells them more than the ACT? Perhaps they only care about which numbers make them look the best. Do college ranking schemes differentiate between ACT and SAT, or do they just look at percentiles?

Allison said...

--At some point they have to sort ACT and SAT applicants.

Steve, it sounds unbelievable, but no, they don't.

Most liberal arts schools just have people reading apps, making decisions on gut feel based on that reading. admissions officers have some rationale of course, but when it comes to a "pick Sheila or Rachel" they are't sorting mechanically. They are going with the one they like more or identify with more based on overall impression. big state schools behave differently of course, but again, they still use bucket cutoffs rather than comparing across the disparate tests.

Anonymous said...

Id bet the accepted student pool would be significantly different if the academic departments picked their students. Especially in the STEM fields, I think professors would tend to choose differently than admissions people.

gasstationwithoutpumps said...

My experience has mainly been at big schools, where faculty have essentially no influence over undergrad admissions (there is a very indirect way for a few faculty on an Academic Senate committee to set policy, but no guarantee that admissions actually follows the policy, and the politics involved in even miniscule changes is policy is enormous).

Faculty do essentially all the decision making in grad admissions, and it is a lot of work---work that few faculty would be willing to do for undergrad admissions.

In the big schools, there are often "point" systems for SAT, ACT, GPA, extra-curriculars, and whatever ele admissions can legally use. Page 6 of
gives the system for UCSC. All of UC uses a point calculator available at (which uses just GPA plus ACT or SAT)

ChemProf said...

As always, the problem with answering "what do colleges look for" is that it varies a lot for different schools. My second tier liberal arts college is different from Harvard and Harvard is different from Oberlin.

Even at small schools, faculty input on admissions is limited. At the elite liberal arts colleges (the "nifty fifty" of US News), there is no reason for faculty input, because the applicant pool is amazing. At the others, admissions officers are often struggling to bring in the desired numbers, and as long as retention doesn't suffer, no one bugs them too much. That's the correction mechanism -- students who aren't qualified don't continue -- although faculty complaints are often an early warning mechanism. Remember at small schools, students aren't admitted into majors, and most eighteen year olds don't really know what they want to major in anyway.

The dean of admissions at Harvey Mudd used to describe the process as follows -- he knew for a class of 150, he needed to admit about 250 students. So, using scores and grades, he'd sort the applicants. At the time, they got about 1000 applicants a year (it is more now) The top 100 applicants were automatically admitted. But for the next 150 admits, any of the next 400 applicants (half the pool or so) would be comparable, so at that point they read the files to look for students who were "interesting." Often, this does mean someone that the admissions officer identifies with or likes. In the sciences at my tiny college, we've found that having an admissions person who likes science students is really important to having our classes filled. When we have one, we do well, and when we don't, we get little or no recruitment.

SteveH said...

"The top 100 applicants were automatically admitted."

Based on what criteria? What hurdle do you have to get over to at least get a chance to be interesting? I assume that elite colleges subject all students to the interesting litmus test.

"...we've found that having an admissions person who likes science students is really important to having our classes filled."

This implies that it's a good thing to make it clear if you have a specific career goal. For a small college, I can't imagine they leave it to chance to balance departments on a yearly basis.

Anonymous said...

"'The top 100 applicants were automatically admitted.'

Based on what criteria?"

ChemProf says "scores and grades."

My read is that Harvey Mudd has some formula to turn SAT/ACT scores plus grades into a single number. The 100 kids whose number is highest are an automatic admit.

After that, they take the next 400ish kids, figure that the scores are roughly equal to within noise, and try to figure out who they want to admit.

"What hurdle do you have to get over to at least get a chance to be interesting?"

ChemProf says the top 500 our of 1,000 or so have a chance to be interesting. Wikipedia says that "The middle 50% of entering SAT scores are 740–800 (out of 800) in mathematics, 690–760 in critical reading", so the low end clearly has a *chance* of being accepted. My guess is that scoring on the low end on all three makes it unlikely that you'd get in, so figure 1450 for Reading+Math is a lower bound to be eligible to be considered "interesting."


-Mark Roulo

ChemProf said...

Bear in mind this was in the late 80's when things were less competitive. There are a couple of ways I know are used to sort applicants on test scores/grades, and I don't remember how Mudd did it. One is just to sort on each variable in turn: think an Excel spreadsheet where you sort first on grades, then on math SAT, then on verbal SAT, as an example. The other is to turn everything into one number. A common approach is to take GPA*1000 + total SAT + achievement tests (which is why they only ever want to see 3 achievement test scores). That isn't the only calculation, but is probably a pretty good approximation.

Also, Mark Roulo, remember that 25% of the class have math SATs below 740 and verbal SATs below 690, so I'd guess they would look at students down to about 1400 as "interesting."

"Interesting" at Mudd largely meant excess capacity. A student who had a 4.0 GPA and also played cello in the youth orchestra or who was also editor of the school paper. That kind of student could drop the extracurriculars (for a while at least) and still manage the course load at Mudd. One year, after CalTech instituted scholarships for all admitted women, they decided that being a woman meant you were interesting, but that didn't last long as too many of these women left after the first year, mostly involuntarily.

Being a minority may make you interesting, but for most students, it means some kind of extracurricular commitment. In that era, where I lived, it was pretty well understood that to be admitted to Stanford, you had to be strongly engaged in sports, for example. They'd rather see a lot of investment in one area rather than a lot of "checkbox" extracurriculars, where you are a member or low-level officer in every club on campus.

I think it was Crimson Wife who said that colleges were looking for students who made the college look good. She's right, and those are the students who are "interesting" in this context.

That said, they do tend to prefer some extracurriculars over others. Music is viewed positively, but 4H is less valued. See for example: This is largely admissions people pulling for those who are like themselves.

As for small schools wanting a balanced class - I wish! A few years ago, I had a total of six freshmen in Gen Chem (the class was ~35 but all the others were transfer students who are almost always going to major in biology or biopsychology). That was before we got the new admissions person who likes science folks. Now about a third of our first years are in science courses this fall! At small schools, where it may be a lot of work to fill the class, all admissions cares about is getting the numbers. Balancing the classes is the faculty's problem!

Allison said...

Similar to ChemProf's comments, MIT's ugrad admissions in the early/mid 90s were similar.

The top N students were automatically admitted. Mark, no, they didn't have a formula to turn grades plus scores into a single number. They had people--that is, every app was read by two people. Each app was given a score on a 1-5 basis. Back then, if you got two 5s, then you were automatically admitted. Early admissions folks were nearly always from the 5s pile, with the 4s then thrown in with the rest of the regular admissions. in regular admissions, some more 5s were admitted, and then again, there were more 4s than space, so they went through and figured out who was a good fit, was interesting, etc. Then they occasionally took a 3 when someone felt strongly about them. Any time there was a discrepancy in score between two readers, they debated it across the admission staff.

So the conversion to that number from scores, grades, and recs was really in the admissions staff's heads. Basically, stellar scores, stellar grades, and stellar recs led to a 5. Stellar recs talked about brains, discipline, initiative, and love of some appropriate-to-MIT subject.

Crimson Wife said...

"Based on what criteria? What hurdle do you have to get over to at least get a chance to be interesting? I assume that elite colleges subject all students to the interesting litmus test."

There was a kid in our local homeschooling support group who won both the Scripps National Spelling Bee and the Intel Science Talent Search. He's an automatic admit even at an Ivy. So were Tiger Woods and Chelsea Clinton when I was at Stanford.

High grades and test scores are necessary but not sufficient because there are more highly qualified applicants than there are available slots at the most selective colleges. Especially now that a student can score an 800 without getting all the questions correct.

SteveH said...

Thanks GSWP. I just got a chance to look at your UC link on their 9% cutoff. It's an interesting way to do it, but they use the same concorcdance numbers as published by ACT. It's a linear relationship between ACT and SAT scores. I'm now comparing real SAT and ACT math tests side-by-side and my initial impression is that they are not linear at the upper score end; that it's easier to get a top math score with the ACT.

For the UC system, they tell you what UC score (based on SAT or ACT scores) you need for each GPA value. The higher the GPA you have, the lower the SAT or ACT score you need to hit the 9% level. This relationship is almost linear, but there is an extra advantage if your GPA score is high. It looks like the cutoff is determined by multiplying your GPA (as UC defines it) by your UC score (based on SAT/ACT). This is different than those formulas that add the scores together.

In any case, the point I try to make to my son is that the SAT and achievement tests are a large percentage of what colleges use for evaluation and that good grades in school don't guarantee good scores on the test. This is especially true with all of the competition.

So, my goal is to start early (I'm not doing too well with that.) and to set some realistic SAT and/or ACT target scores. I'm still on the fence whether to push him to take both tests (along with the achievement tests), or to focus on just the SAT. I'm leaning towards the traditional route around here; PSAT, SAT, and 3 achievement tests. I think Allison is right about colleges wondering why an East Coast student is sending in just an ACT score. I'll also wager that some colleges have a bias against ACT, no matter what they say publically.

SteveH said...

I'm confused. The achievement test is now in two parts: the SAT Subject Test in Mathematics Level 1 and Level 2. Which is the one that students normally take?

Allison said...

Recognize that the UC system wide scores vs gpa "index" only guarantees entrance to the UC system "somewhere".

the state of CA has mandated that the top 9% of students in the state get to go to the UC system. But that doesn't mean you'll get into Berkeley, UCLA or UCSD. It may mean you only get to go to UC Merced or UC Riverside.

If you want to go to Cal or UCSD, you still need to apply, and the scores needed to get in are much higher than the UC admissions index. If you want to go not just to Cal, but to Cal's College of Engineering, you apply there separately, and the scores needed to get in are much higher again (Cal's College of engineering has not done away with the req of taking the SAT, as of now, at least. They certainly don't want to, even as the rest of the UC tries to make it optional.)

ChemProf said...

A note on target scores -- anything over 700 on the SAT tests will open a lot of doors and is a good rough target (I think Catherine's is 710?). You are competitive at most elite schools (although those scores don't guarantee anything), and at second tier schools would be in the running for significant scholarships, if that's the goal.

As for the SAT II, you want level 2 in math, or else don't take the math subject exam. See for example:

SteveH said...

"...anything over 700 on the SAT tests will open a lot of doors ..."

I'm way behind Catherine and Debbie, and am slowly figuring things out. From the data online, I was surprised at the range of scores for the Ivy League schools. Their SAT scores show a composite of 2032 (677 per test) at the 25th percentile up to 2320 (773 per test) at the 75th percentile. I knew the average was about 725 for each part, but I was surprised at the 25th percentile point. Catherine is targeting 700+, but I am only starting to get a feel for how difficult that is.

As ChemProf says, I know people who have traded tier for scholarship money. It's amazing to think that just a few problems can save you a lot of money. Going from a raw score of 49 to 51 on a math SAT test can change your score from 710 to 750. For ACT, if you go from 55 correct (out of 60) to 57 correct, your ACT score goes from 32 to 34. That's equivalent to going from a SAT score of 710 to 755. It's nonlinear near the top and the difference is practice, not mathematical understanding.

I did an ACT math test and found the questions easy. There were no trick questions. On a couple of them, I tricked myself - I made them more difficult because my thinking went off in the wrong direction. I got a 34. The only problem I had was the time. I rushed and made a couple of simple mistakes. This is easy to do when one of the answers matches your simple mistake. I have to practice being methodical and fast. The time for each problem is not a problem for the ACT. It's the overall time and the need for an hour's worth of concentration that is the problem.

Crimson Wife said...

If you're a white or Asian kid from an affluent suburb without any legacy status or other hook, you really need to be scoring in the high 700's on each section if you hope to get into an Ivy. I have been completely floored by the qualifications of kids I know who have been rejected from the top schools in recent years. It's absolutely insane!

SteveH said...

"I have been completely floored by the qualifications of kids I know who have been rejected from the top schools in recent years."

So what does that say about the lower half of their SAT scores? Are these mostly non-white and non-Asian, affluent kids? Are they really doing that?

CassyT said...

Two things:
Colorado and Tennessee fund the ACT. Probably why so many people take it here. CO Results & info

Second - At our school board meeting last night, our college counselor mentioned something I'd never heard before. Colleges base a prospective student's GPA on their formula, not the high school that they attend. We were discussing how to weight AP courses our school will begin teaching next year, when the counselor mentioned that colleges figure these out themselves.

It was news to me.

momof4 said...

Some of the kids in the lower half of the SAT (or ACT) scores are likely to be athletes, musicians, dancers etc. or have some legacy/political/economic pull. At one point, schools were adding womens' crew(Title 9 pressure)and there were so few high schools with teams that they were giving scholarships to USS swimmers with no crew experience, because they had the strength and the aerobic conditioning.

Check out the just-released report from the Center for Equal Opportunity on affirmative action at the University of Wisconsin Madison; median scores of accepted Hispanics are 100 points below whites/Asians and scores of accepted blacks are 150 points lower. Among students of similar credentials, Hispanics are 61 times as likely to be admitted than whites/Asians and for blacks the likelihood is 500 times greater. I've read similar gaps in scores for a number of different schools, all the way to the Ivies.

My kids are out of college now, but a number of colleges (from elites down to flagship state schools) not only re-calculate GPAs according to their formula, but don't include all courses, only the academic ones and not all of those. I know one kid who had taken AP physiology or astronomy (had an A) and it didn't count at all; the school counted only bio, chem and physics. The weighting for honors and AP is still important because it affects class rank so much. At the school my older kids attended, virtually the entire top quarter of the class had never taken an academic class that was not honors or AP (honors prerequisites required) and the topmost group would have GPAs of 4.7+ on a 4.0 scale (at least 7 APs). A 3.0 with no honors/AP was in the bottom half of the class; the school was (still is, I think) that competitive.

Allison; In the time period you mentioned, my older kids school sent 2 kids to MIT every year (plus many other top schools). My son's classmate didn't get in; he had 1 B in honors or AP English. However, he was a real math genius; none of the top kids in AP calc BC or the top AP physics would ask him if they were stuck. His mind just worked at another level from the other kids who also had 800 on the math SAT II and 5 on the APs.The accepted kids had no Bs but they weren't at his level mathematically.

cranberry said...

We're a large country. A composite score of 2030 puts an applicant around the 94th percentile on the SAT--and there are thousands of students who score 2030 or better. The Ivy league isn't large enough to accept every student who has great scores.

SteveH said...

It sounds like the top colleges could have median SAT scores of 750 rather than 725. If so, then they must be increasing the weighting factors of non-academic factors. Do they track how successful these kids are?

My view is that just because the competition is getting stronger, it doesn't mean that the colleges are getting tougher. I can't imagine that there is a big increase in failure for kids below the 725 SAT median. If so, then that would allow colleges to increase the value of other "interesting" factors. I assume that there is a way to find out what different schools are looking for. Also, I assume that it is very important to justify why you are interested in each college. It probably doesn't matter what your scores are if you fail some key litmus test.

SteveH said...

Michigan also pays for the ACT. I think everyone has to take it.

I've heard about colleges calculating their own GPA and looking only at core courses. I told my son that he should do the same thing. However, his GPA matters for class rank, and that does matter with some formulas. This means that he shouldn't ignore PE or lose points because he didn't cover his textbook.

Weighting of courses is interesting. Honors classes is where all of the old college prep students are, and college prep is for everyone else, since they think that all kids should go to college. There is no "general" or "business" level anymore. So, they weight the CP classes with a factor of 3, the honors classes with a factor of 3.4, and the AP classes (grade of 3+) with a weight of 3.7. This really pushes the arms race towards the honors and AP classes. Kids moving up to high school can't be scared by the "high expectations" of honors classes to accept fewer honors classes. You might as well say goodbye to your class rank.

My goal is to understand all of the hard factors and fuzzy weights so that my son can focus on what's important and not waste a lot of time.

By the way, I just got this notice via our public high school. It's being held by the "Harvard Club" in our state at a private high school.

"We will present a program on Harvard College, featuring a panel discussion by current Harvard undergraduates, a video about campus life, and our featured speaker, [Xxxxx], who will discuss aspects of admission and life in Cambridge. [Xxxxx] is the admissions officer for [our state]."

I noticed that someone I know is a co-chair of the committee sponsoring this event. Perhaps I'll go.

ChemProf said...

"I assume that there is a way to find out what different schools are looking for."

Not really. You can attend admissions sessions and talk to alums, but a change of a few people in the admissions office can change what they are looking for, especially on the "soft" factors. And admissions folks are evaluated on bringing in a class, not on how students do when they graduate.

Anonymous said...

Just to give some idea of how different schools might have different criteria - when I interviewed with the dean of admissions at Harvey Mudd one of the things he was impressed with was that while my Math SAT wasn't top notch by Mudd standards (low 700s) it was acceptable but he was really pleased that my verbal wasn't much lower (690) and they considered that a marker for a more well rounded student. I didn't get the impression that it was because they added the scores together and having a low verbal was just leaving a lot of points on the table - the impression I got at the time was that as the humans in admissions read over these things that they'd likely see that as good, and that while in some ways I was a borderline admit he'd bring that up if I was a discussion item along with some strong writing based extraciriculars I had. But he also told me frankly not to bother with early admissions because I wouldn't get in, period. I don't know if all deans of admissions are so frank but it was very revealing at the time.

As a side note I got my letter of acceptance to UC Berkeley a week before the first date they said they would start looking for them (as in, there's no point in getting your application in before that date). Point being that while I think individuals in admissions can be helpful if you're talking one on one I think admissions offices as an entity put out quite a lot of misinformation.

Anonymous said...

Oh - another point that might be helpful - I drove over to my interview by myself and took a bit of a tour by myself - no parents. It just never occurred to me that they should sit in a room while I was talking to this guy, bored out of their skull, when I could just drive over and get it done. But apparently it's very unusual and he took that as showing inititive or being independent or something. Maybe I wouldn't have gotten in if I had parents in tow. Maybe I'd have been wait listed instead of a straight admit. No way to tell really, but the fact that he commented on it stuck with me all these years later.

Crimson Wife said...

The top colleges could have a median SAT of 750 per subject if they were willing to have a student population that looked like CalTech's: of 921 undergraduates in the fall of 2008, 372 are white Americans, 367 are Asian-Americans, 104 are labeled as "International", 51 are Hispanic Americans, 7 are African-Americans, and 20 are not specified. CalTech does not give any legacy or athletic preferences in admission.

I don't think most of the top schools are interested in having student demographics that look like that.

Anonymous said...

The admissions departments and diversity offices would faint en masse!

SteveH said...

Thanks for the feedback. I have a better feel for how important the intangibles are - more important than I thought. It seems that this is a big factor for all tiers of schools.

I know that KTM has talked about this before, but I really don't like the idea of having my son build an image or a resume. I suppose I should start looking at what non-academic stuff goes into a real application now rather than when my son is a senior.

By the way, do colleges do interviews anymore?

Anonymous said...

Intangibles can make a big difference. Athletic coaches often have a designated number of "admits" each year; kids who would not be admitted through the regular process, and not just in the big-money sports. I know a swim coach who told a prospect that they were short of flyers; if her butterfly time was below X, she was in. I also know tennis players, golfers, soccer players and baseball players whose sport made the difference. It's true for top debaters and I assume it's also true for musicians and other performing/visual artists.

ChemProf said...

Colleges do still do interviews, although the significance varies by school. They tend to be more important for small liberal arts schools and Ivies. Big state schools typically don't do interviews.

Grace said...

Here's an article about football at the University of Chicago, a school ranked 5th nationally and not necessarily known for athletic recruiting.

When [UChicago coach] Maloney wants a player, he said, he brings the athlete’s academic file to the admissions office, where “the only advantage I get is quick service.”

But at Chicago, as at most of the nation’s elite universities, a football player has the advantage of a big pair of cleats in the door. “Admissions always tells us, ‘There are 500 kids with perfect test scores we turned away,’ ” Maloney said. “But they also want kids who bring something else to the table — sculptors and actors and, yes, football players.”

Interesting that they write how this UChicago football player's "unfortunate run-in with the ACT exam" caused him to lose a spot in the Ivy League. I wonder if they're referring to a score of 32 instead of 34. ;)

Chicago’s star player is wide receiver and kick returner Dee Brizzolara, a junior from Aurora, Ohio. The Maroons were not his first choice. He said Princeton recruited him really hard when he was in high school but he lost his opportunity to play in a big Ivy League stadium after an unfortunate run-in with the ACT exam.

momof4 said...

A number of years ago, I remember there was a big media flap when a highly-recruited Ohio State football player dropped from the team (giving up his full-ride scholarship) in his first semester; publicly stating that OSU football was not compatible with serious academics.(I think he wanted pre-med) He was right, of course; his sin was saying so.

For the top schools, the kind of intangibles matter; kids from 4-H, Boy Scouts, FFA/FHA, JROTC etc., particularly with regional or national leadership are specifically DISadvantaged, according to a recent report. They're not seen as "our kind of people" I guess.

Cranberry said...

Grace, the "unfortunate run-in with the ACT exam" could have something to do with the Ivy League's "Academic Index." A long description can be found here:

To precisely determine an athlete’s recruitability, the Ivy League segments all A.I.s above 171 into four “bands.” Bands at each school are defined by the statistical make-up of the school's current freshman class. In each school, therefore, the numbers associated with the bands differ.
Ivy admissions are tough, even for recruited athletes. All Ivy League schools start with a pool of more than a thousand players, and then whittle that pool down to 30. A typical “low-low,” therefore, will be in the top quarter of his high school class, with a 27 on the ACT (1220 SAT), and will be a first-team all-stater or even a high school All-American caliber player. A typical “high” might still be an all-conference caliber player with a 33+ ACT (1460+ SAT) and a top 5% ranking.

Grace said...

Thanks, Cranberry! I never knew that the AI had its origins in athletic recruiting.