Scores on the SAT college entrance exam for Georgia’s high school graduating class held steady this year, mirroring the nation, data released Thursday by the College Board show.
Georgia’s students scored an overall 1,452, compared to the National average of 1,498. An increase was seen in critical reading (+2), while a decrease was seen in math (-2). There was no change in the writing score of 468.
75 percent of Georgia’s 2013 senior class took the SAT—more than 72,000 students—compared to the national participation rate of 43 percent. Georgia has the ninth highest participation rate in the nation. States with higher participation rates typically see lower average scores on the test and often see dips when the number of students taking the exam increases.
Last year, Georgia’s SAT score increased seven points, even as the nation lost ground on the test.
“While we didn’t see the same gains this year that we did in 2012, I am proud that our students held their ground on the SAT,” said State School Superintendent Dr. John Barge. “We expect to see even better scores in the coming years as students become more engaged in their high school classes under our Career Pathways/Clusters initiative.”
College and Career Readiness Benchmarks
Thirty-six (36) percent of SAT takers in the Georgia class of 2013 met the SAT College and Career Readiness Benchmark.
An analysis of this year’s graduating class shows that students who meet the benchmark are more likely to have completed a core curriculum (defined as four or more years of English and three or more years each of mathematics, natural science, and social science or history). They are also more likely to have taken honors or AP® courses, more likely to have taken higher-level mathematics courses (i.e., pre-calculus, calculus, or trigonometry) and more likely to be in the top 10 percent of their high school graduating class by GPA.
Of the Georgia SAT takers who met the benchmark:
83 percent completed a core curriculum, compared to 67 percent of those who did not achieve the benchmark.
86 percent took honors or AP courses, compared to 43 percent of those who did not achieve the benchmark.
83 percent took higher-level mathematics courses, compared to 63 percent of those who did not achieve the benchmark.
52 percent were in the top 10 percent of their high school graduating class, compared to 16 percent of those who did not achieve the benchmark.
“We know the percentage of students meeting the SAT College and Career Readiness Benchmark is far too low,” said Superintendent Barge. “This percentage is almost identical to the percentage of students who met the benchmark on our most recent End of Course Test in coordinate algebra, showing that regardless of the test, we have to prepare our students more quickly for the world that awaits them after high school.”
Closing the Achievement Gap
The largest percentage of minority students ever participated in the SAT in Georgia this year. Of the state’s 2013 college-bound seniors who took the SAT, 46 percent (33,243 students) were minority students, up from 43 percent (28,574 students) in the class of 2009.
Students who are typically underrepresented in higher education – African American, American Indian, and Hispanic/Latino students – made up 37 percent of all SAT takers in the Georgia class of 2013, up from 35 percent five years ago.
What’s more, Hispanic students in Georgia’s schools continue to outperform their peers across the country on the SAT. In Georgia, Hispanic students scored an average of 1,401, compared to the national average of 1,354. African-American students in Georgia outperformed their peers nationally in both critical reading and writing, with mean scores of 433 (2 points higher than the nation) and 419 (1 point higher than the nation).
The achievement gap between African-American students in Georgia and their white classmates on the SAT is 176 points in Georgia, 44 points lower than the same achievement gap nationally. For Hispanic students, the achievement gap in Georgia is 51 points, compared to the national achievement gap of 144 points.
Higher Participation Equals Lower Mean Scores
It is common for states that have high participation to have lower mean scores compared to states that have a very low participation rate. Media and others often rank states, districts and schools on the basis of SAT scores despite repeated warnings that such rankings are invalid. The SAT is a strong indicator of trends in the college-bound population, but it should never be used alone for such comparisons because demographics and other non-school factors can have a significant effect on scores. If ranked, schools and states that encourage students to apply to college may be penalized because scores tend to decline with a rise in percentage of test-takers.
The Value of a Core Curriculum and Rigorous Course Work
Completing a core curriculum and pursuing rigorous course work are two critical components of college readiness, and the students who do so tend to perform better on the SAT. Georgia students who completed a core curriculum—defined as four or more years of English, three or more years of mathematics, three or more years of natural science and three or more years of social science and history — did better on the SAT than those who did not complete those classes.
All 2013 Georgia SAT Takers
Critical Reading Mathematics Writing
Core Curriculum 500 498 486
Non-Core Curriculum 457 453 442
Difference +43 +45 +44
Georgia’s commitment to rigorous standards builds on the success that has been achieved using other rigorous curricula, such as the Advanced Placement (AP) Program. Studies continue to show that students who score at least a 3 on an AP Exam in high school experience greater academic success in college and graduate from college at higher rates than their comparable, non-AP peers.
College Plans of Georgia’s SAT Takers
Among the SAT takers in Georgia’s class of 2013 who responded to optional questions about their college plans:
32 percent of students indicated that they plan to attain a bachelor’s degree.
52 percent indicated that they plan to attain a more advanced (master’s or doctoral) degree.
76 percent indicated that they plan to apply for financial aid.
Top 10 Institutions Receiving Scores from Georgia SAT Takers
The SAT is a college entrance exam that is developed, administered and scored by the College Board. The SAT is designed to test the subject matter learned by students in high school and the critical thinking skills necessary to succeed in college. The test has three sections—critical reading, mathematics and writing—each worth 800 points, for a highest possible score of 2400.