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SAT: Georgia Sees Gains as Participation Increases, National Scores Decrease


Matt Cardoza, GaDOE Communications Office, (404) 651-7358,  

Dorie Turner Nolt, (404)656-5594,

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September 24, 2012 -- The SAT scores of Georgia’s 2012 senior class increased seven points as the nation’s scores decreased two points, according to the College Board’s 2012 SAT report.
Increases were seen even as the rate of students taking the test increased by one percentage point to 81 percent, compared to the national average test-taking rate of only 31 percent. Georgia has the seventh highest participation rate in the nation. States with higher participation rates typically see lower average scores on the SAT and often see dips when the number of students taking the exam increases.
This year Georgia also saw the largest and most diverse group of graduating seniors in state history. Of the state’s 2012 college-bound seniors who took the SAT, 47 percent were minority students, up from 46 percent in 2011 and 39 percent in 2007.
Georgia's students scored 1,452 on the SAT, a seven point increase from 2011. The national average was 1,498, a two point decrease from 2011.
“I’m extremely pleased that SAT scores increased so much this year,” said State School Superintendent Dr. John Barge. “We jumped ahead of several states in our overall score, even as we saw our participation rate continue to increase.”
Closing the Achievement Gap
Minority students in Georgia's schools continue to outperform their peers across the country on the SAT. The 2012 SAT report shows that African-American and Hispanic students in Georgia are outperforming those subgroups nationally.
Georgia’s African-American students outscored their counterparts nationwide on two of the three SAT subsections. Mean critical reading scores for Georgia’s African-American students are three points higher and mean writing scores are two points higher than that of African-American students nationwide.


Hispanic students in Georgia’s schools outperformed their counterparts 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 11 points higher, and mean writing scores are 14 points higher than Hispanic students nationwide.

The difference between the scores of African-American and white students - called "the achievement gap" - is 270 points in Georgia, which is 35 points smaller than the achievement gap nationwide of 305. The gap between the scores of Hispanic and white students in Georgia is 148 points, 78 points lower than the nation (226).
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 2012 Georgia SAT Takers
                                                Critical Reading           Mathematics    Writing
Core Curriculum                      499                              500                   485
Non-Core Curriculum               459                              459                   447
Difference                               +40                              +41                  +38

Georgia's commitment to rigorous standards with the new Common Core Georgia Performance 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.

Top 10 Institutions Receiving Scores from Georgia SAT Takers
UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA                                                    
GEORGIA SOUTHERN UNIVERSITY                                      
GEORGIA STATE UNIVERSITY                                             
KENNESAW STATE UNIVERSITY                                         
VALDOSTA STATE UNIVERSITY                                           
GEORGIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY                               
UNIVERSITY OF WEST GEORGIA                                         
AUBURN UNIVERSITY                                                          
College Plans of Georgia’s SAT Takers
Among the SAT takers in Georgia’s class of 2012 who responded to optional questions about their college plans:
- 32 percent of students indicated plans to attain a bachelor’s degree
- 52 percent indicated plans to attain a more advanced (master’s or doctoral) degree
- 77 percent indicated that they planned to apply for financial aid
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.