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SAT: Senior Class Larger, More Diverse Than Ever Before

 MEDIA CONTACT : GaDOE Communications office, (404) 651-7358,  mcardoza@gadoe.org    - Follow us on  Facebook  and  Twitter     September 13, 2010  -- The largest and most diverse group of graduating seniors in Georgia’s history took the SAT this year. The SAT participation rate for the Georgia class of 2010 (74 percent) was among the top 10 in the nation. Of the state’s 2010 college-bound seniors who took the SAT, 44.6 percent were minority students, up from 35.0 percent in 2005 and 30.4 percent in 2000. In addition, 37.9 percent of the state’s SAT takers indicated that they are first-generation college attendees.   “I am encouraged by the number of minority students in Georgia who plan to go on to college and by the number of students who are the first in their families to seek a college education,” said State Superintendent of Schools Brad Bryant. “For Georgia’s students to remain competitive against other students across the U.S. and the world, we must commit ourselves to preparing all students for the challenges of college and careers.”   Georgia's public, private and home school students scored 1,453 on the SAT and the national average was 1,509. Public school students scored 1,442 on the exam and the national average score was 1,497.   Georgia students have shown that those who take the challenge of a core curriculum and more rigorous course work are better prepared for college-level work.    A Rigorous Curriculum and College Readiness   Georgia students completing 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 — outscored their classmates who did not take a core curriculum. Comparisons of Georgia students who took core curricula with those who did not showed a combined average score difference of 136 points. It is critical that all students — especially those traditionally underrepresented in postsecondary education —have access to the curriculum that will best prepare them for college.    All Georgia SAT Takers                                                    Critical Reading       Mathematics       Writing   Core Curriculum                              501                      503               488  Non-Core Curriculum                        456                      456               444   Difference                                     +45                      +47               +44    In July, the State Board of Education adopted the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in English language arts and mathematics for grades K-12. These state-led academic standards define the knowledge and skills students should have within their K-12 education careers so that they will graduate high school fully prepared for college and careers.   “The State Board's vote to adopt the Common Core State Standards was a huge step toward giving us a meaningful comparison of our students’ achievement with that of students in other states," said State Board of Education Chair Wanda Barrs. "Our students will be competing for jobs with students from all over the world and we must be able to compare ourselves to the rest of the U.S. and other countries to ensure that we are providing students with the tools they need to be globally competitive."   The efforts to establish common core standards build on the success that has been achieved using 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.   In addition, students who take more demanding honors or AP courses also tend to have higher SAT scores. For example, students who took English honors or AP courses scored 62 points higher in critical reading than the average of all students in Georgia, and 61 points higher in writing. Similarly, students who took math honors or AP courses had an 82-point advantage compared to the average SAT mathematics scores for the state.   Georgia has the fourth greatest one-year increase in the number of public school AP exam-takers and the sixth greatest one-year increase in the number of AP exams receiving grades of 3-5.    Closing the Achievement Gap   Minority students in Georgia public schools continue to outperform African-American and Hispanic students across the country on the SAT. The 2010 SAT report shows that African-American and Hispanic students in Georgia's public schools are outperforming those subgroups nationally.   Georgia’s Black public school students outscored their counterparts nationwide on two of the three SAT subsections. Mean Critical Reading scores for Georgia’s Black public school students are two points higher and mean Writing scores are three points higher than that of Black students in public schools nationwide.   Hispanic students in Georgia’s public schools outperformed their counterpart nationwide on all three of the SAT subsections. Mean Critical Reading scores for Georgia’s Hispanic students are 22 points higher, mean Mathematics scores are 17 points higher, and mean Writing scores are 13 points higher than Hispanic students in public schools nationwide.   "It is good news that our African-American and Hispanic students are doing better than their peers nationally," said State Superintendent of Schools Brad Bryant. "But Georgia is a very diverse state, and in order to raise our average SAT score, we must continue to close the achievement gap.”   The difference between the scores of African-American and White public school students -- called "the achievement gap" -- is 271 points in Georgia, which is 33 points smaller than the achievement gap nationwide (304). The gap between the scores of Hispanic and White public school students in Georgia is 136 points, 82 points lower than the nation (218).   However, Superintendent Bryant pointed out that Georgia has very high minority participation on the SAT and the achievement gap impacts our overall SAT scores more than most other states.   “We certainly should be pleased that our achievement gap is smaller than the nation’s, but we should not be satisfied with 271 and 136 point gaps,” Superintendent Bryant said. “Georgia has made progress on many state and national tests, such as the ACT and the National Assessment of Educational Progress. But clearly we must maintain – and expand – our commitment to providing all students with academically rigorous courses.”   Superintendent Bryant said a lot of work is already being done. For instance, the state has been pushing to increase the number of students who are taking AP classes and the 2010 data shows that it is working. The number of students taking AP classes jumped 13.4 percent, overall. The biggest increase in enrollment was among African-American students (+19.2%) and Hispanic students (+29.3 percent). This is important because, as the SAT report shows, students who take even one year of AP classes in any subject will score higher on the SAT.    ABOUT THE SAT:   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 2,400.    Click to download School-level Scores