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SAT Test Score Results Are Reported

The College Board, the producer of the SAT, reported that average national SAT scores for the high school class of 2009 dropped two points compared with last year. However the number of minority students who took the exam increased from up from 38% to a 40% minority participation rate among test-takers this year. Also up from previous years: More than a third of students say they are first-generation college students whose parents never went to college, and more than a quarter said English is not their first language.  We therefore have a broader and more culturally diverse base of test takers.

On one end, students who identified themselves as Asian, Asian-American or Pacific Islander posted a 13-point gain. On the other end, students who identified themselves as Puerto Rican posted a 9-point drop in average scores.

The differences in total SAT scores by ethnicity was most extreme between Asian students (who had an average total score of 1623 out of a possible 2400) and black students (who averaged 1276, a four-point drop). Puerto Rican students averaged 1345. The national average was 1509. Top score is 800 in each of the three SAT sections.

Total scores also dropped two points for white students (who averaged 1581) and Mexican and Mexican American students (who averaged 1362). They increased two points for American Indian or Alaskan natives (average score 1448).

Disparities in scores by gender and income also widened:

•Average scores dropped 5 points for females and 2 points for males. While females represent more than half (53.5%) of test takers, their total average score (1496) is 27 points below the average score for males (1523).

•The highest average score of all (1702, up 26 points) was posted by students who said their families earned more than $200,000 a year. Students who reported family incomes of less than $20,000 a year averaged 1321, up 1 point.

The report’s analysis notes that students who had completed a core curriculum, taken their school’s most rigorous courses and familiarized themselves with the test were among the strongest performers.

For example, students who took an Advanced Placement or honors math course scored an average of 79 points above the national average math score. And students who had previously taken the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test scored 121 points higher on average than those who did not take the test.

While I am not a supporter of tests as a sole criteria for academic success, it is good news that more and more students are taking the examination.  This is an indication that more students are graduating (as opposed to dropping out) and that maybe more of them plan to attend college.

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