National News

Average SAT Scores at Lowest Since 1999

Posted August 28, 2007


The class of 2007 averaged the lowest math and reading SAT scores since 1999, the College Board reported Tuesday.

Last spring's high school seniors scored on average 502, out of a possible 800 points, on the critical reading section of the country's most popular college entrance exam, down from 503 for the class of 2006. Math scores fell three points from 518 to 515.

North Carolina's math score dropped from 513 last year to 509. The critical reading score stayed the same at 495, and the average writing score fell to 485 from 488 in 2006, when the writing test was first included in the SAT.

"The number and percentage of North Carolina high school seniors who take the SAT show us that students are planning for education beyond high school," State Superintendent of Education June Atkinson said in a statement. "While we would like to see scores increase every year, this development is a positive indicator for North Carolina's future."

Seventy-one percent of North Carolina high school seniors took the SAT last year, placing the state 11th nationally in overall participation.

Wake County scores dropped across the board – six points in math, three in reading and five in writing. Durham County students improved their reading scores by three points but fell by seven points in math and two points in writing. Orange County scores also were down in all three areas – 10 points in math, three points in reading and five points in math.

District scores and individual school results are included in the 2007 state report.

The national declines follow a seven-point drop last year for the first class to take a lengthened and redesigned SAT, which included higher-level math questions and eliminated analogies. The College Board, which owns the exam, insisted the new exam wasn't harder and attributed last year's drop to fewer students taking it a second time. Students typically fare about 30 points better when they take the exam again.

The College Board's report Tuesday noted that a record number of students - just short of 1.5 million - took the test. The cohort of test-takers also was the most diverse ever, with minority students accounting for 39 percent: There has been a persistent gap between the scores of whites and the two largest U.S. minority groups, Hispanics and blacks.

In New York, 89 percent of students took the exam, up from 88 percent last year. Maine recently became the first state to use the SAT to meet its Grade 11 assessment requirements under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, and 100 percent of students took the exam there, compared to about three-quarters in the class of 2006.

"They have taken a very progressive stand in trying to get more and more students to go to college," College Board President Gaston Caperton said of Maine at a news conference Tuesday morning. "The larger the population you get to take an examination, it obviously knocks down the scores."

The number of black students taking the SAT rose 6 percent, and the number of test-takers calling themselves "Other Hispanic, Latino or Latin American" (a group that does not include Puerto Ricans or Mexican Americans) rose more than 25 percent.

Average scores also slipped from 497 to 494 on the writing portion of the SAT, which debuted with the class of 2006. Many colleges are waiting to see results from the first few years of data on the writing exam before determining how to use it.

Figures released earlier this month on the rival ACT exam showed a slight increase - from 21.1 last year to 21.2, on a scale of 1 to 36 - for the class of 2007.

The SAT has historically been more popular on the East and West coasts, while the ACT has been more popular in the Midwest and inland western states. But more and more students are taking both exams to try to improve their college resumes.


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  • oceanchild71 Aug 29, 2007

    About these SAT scores, this reporting is FLAWED! In our state, there is a big emphasis on just about every student that can to take the test. This means you have students with low C and D averages taking the test and thus the 71% NC participation rate. Now, look at a state such as Iowa. Their participation rate hovers around 10 to 15% at most and is usually limited to only those students with the best grades. Therefore, this is not apples to appples comparison when showing average scores between states. The only way to do that is to somehow track (and not use the self-report grades on the info part of the test) each student's GPA and pair it with their score and then give statistics such as "The average score for students with a 4.0 average" or for the top 20% of the class.

  • oceanchild71 Aug 29, 2007

    gmusty: teachers have to make up incentives such as the one you mentioned about limiting trips to the bathroom, otherwise, you are constantly interrupted. Most schools do not allow a general pass that a teacher can set by the door. Instead, the teacher must stop class and fill out a pass with the student's name, where they are going, where they are coming from, and the time and sign the pass. If you do not limit it, 15 kids will try to go to the bathroom and so you are spending half your class writing out passes.

  • NCTeacher Aug 29, 2007

    Myra- lets get a few things straight.

    Yes, there are some crazy laws regarding education and students. And teachers are not responsible for making them. But we do follow them. Not as an excuse not to teach, but because we are doing our jobs.

    Teachers do not typically take children into private rooms and administer corporal punishment. In the vast majority of schools, corporal punishment is dealt with by the principal if the child's parents have consented to it and their are witnesses present.

    Students CAN fail for missing too many days. That is state law that they be present 160 days out of 180. If they pass all their subjects and EOG's- they are usually sent to the next grade regardless of absences.

  • Wheelerx5__Ready for Football Aug 29, 2007

    Actually, I think the question was "Anglais or espanole?"

  • Wheelerx5__Ready for Football Aug 29, 2007

    I didn't even finish reading the article. There was no need to. The Illegals in this state have decided to try to take the SATS. I graduated in MN, I never took the ACTS or SATS because I went to college my senior year. (I was in the top 25% of my school my junior year,) and never had the need to take them. When my younger brother graduated in 1999, there was an article in the paper about our high school and how two graduating seniors had scored PERFECT on their SATS. NO, my brother was not one of them. I never took them, so I don't really understand the scoring, but it seems to me that America's children are pretty stupid if the average score is around 500. Or is it just the Illegals bringing the score down? Why don't we give them the same test in Spanish? They might do better! Just like when I moved here and had to get an NC liscence, there was such a long line of Mexicans that when it came my turn to enter the room, the officer asked me if I wanted English or espanole.Duh!!

  • Myra Aug 29, 2007

    Teachers have more excuses for not doing their jobs than any other profession; except perhaps FEMA. The NC General Assembly makes laws without regard to the children/students but for the teachers and educators. Considering the number of teachers/coaches charged with having sex with students and other child sex offenses, WHY would they give these people the legal right to take a child in private and hit them? When a student passes all their subjects and end of course tests but misses too many days of school, they are forced to repeat the same grade. Now what moron thought of that one? Imagine this student is going to really be excited and looking forward to repeating what he/she already passed. Besides your obvious racism, you are focusing on symptoms and ignoring The Problem. Two teachers arrested for sex with students (Grays Creek) and one student arrested for inappropriate camera photo. Guess who the media bashed to death? The student, of course. DUH!!

  • Nancy Aug 28, 2007

    jhnewman - lol, that was good!

    Sadly, there is a serious failure of leadership on getting public education 'right', not only here in NC, but in most of the country.

    Too many diversions from basic core studies, the feel good, no one is really a failure it any wonder we have kids graduating from high school who cannot write a cohesive sentence? Who can't spell? Who can't do simple math?

    But, by God, they have their diploma!

  • Hy-Grade Aug 28, 2007

    WOW, it must have took a rocket scientist to figure this out, the smaller the percentage of whites that make up the total test takers, the lower the average IQ

  • then who cares Aug 28, 2007

    I believe the story said 6 percent more blacks took the test and 25 percent more Other Hispanic took the test. Could that account for the drop? Are these minority students who are not getting enough education?

  • jhnewman Aug 28, 2007

    Hi Nancy:

    "I guess failure pays, at the top anyway."

    Naw, he did his job, and probably quite well. he was hindered by a program that should be, "No parent left behind". His teachers worked their tails off tryig to increase their learning and test scores, only to have the illiterates bust their bubbles.

    Juan and Juanita go home to an empty house every day and even if their parents are there (not likely), they can't help them with their homework.

    Now, Leroy and Shanika, go home and their mom is working two jobs to make ends meet. So they get no help, and in fact, Leroy, doesn't mind at all because his mom would just tell him to hike up his pants and do his homework.

    Meanwhile, John, David, and Shirley are being tutored so they can attend the "Academy" and become the new landlords for Juan, Juanita, Leroy and Shanika.

    Don't like it? Then tell me what you are going to do about it. Don't blame the teachers. They should be getting combat pay.