Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content

SAT: Georgia Has 5th Highest Participation Rate in the U.S.

2011 Senior Class is Larger and More Diverse Than Ever Before

Matt Cardoza, GaDOE Communications Office, (404) 651-7358,
- Follow us on Twitter and Facebook 

School-level Scores

September 14, 2011 -- 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 2011 was 80%, a six percent increase from last year, placing Georgia fifth in the nation in the percentage of high school seniors taking the SAT. Of the state’s 2011 college-bound seniors who took the SAT, 46 percent were minority students, up from 45 percent in 2010 and 39 percent in 2007.

Georgia's public, private and home school students scored 1,445 on the SAT, a six point decrease from 2010. The national average was 1,500, also a six point decrease from 2010. Public school students scored 1,431 on the exam and the national average score was 1,483.

“It’s good that we have so many students aspiring to go to college,” said State School Superintendent Dr. John Barge. “However, I believe we have to do a better job of educating our students as to what exam is needed to get into the appropriate postsecondary institution. We have far more students taking the SAT than the number of students going to four-year universities. Many of our postsecondary institutions don’t require the SAT for students to be accepted. When we roll out our career pathways next year, the appropriate postsecondary tests needed for enrollment will be clearly outlined for students.”

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 a core curriculum.

All 2011 Georgia SAT Takers 
                                    Critical Reading     Mathematics     Writing
Core Curriculum                 496                     499                  484
Non-Core Curriculum           456                     455                  444
Difference                        +40                     +44                  +40

Georgia's commitment to rigorous standards (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.

Georgia students who took English honors or AP courses scored 59 points higher in critical reading and 59 points higher in writing than the average for all Georgia SAT takers. Similarly, Georgia students taking math honors or AP courses had an 80-point advantage compared to the average SAT mathematics scores for the state. Georgia students who took natural sciences, social sciences and history honors or AP courses also scored significantly higher on each section of the SAT than the average for all Georgia SAT takers.

Increased Participation Continues to Depress Mean Scores
It is common for mean scores to decline when the number of students taking an exam increases because more students of varied academic backgrounds are represented in the test-taking pool. As the number of SAT takers in Georgia has increased 18 percent among all students and 19 percent among public school students since 2007, score declines like Georgia has experienced can be expected.

Average scores for all Georgia SAT takers declined compared to 2010 with average scores for critical reading down 3 points, mathematics down 2 points and writing down 1 point. When looking beyond year-to-year comparisons at longer-term trends, critical reading scores are down 7 points, mathematics scores down 5 points and writing scores are down 8 points since 2007. Public school mean scores have followed a similar trend, with critical reading and mathematics scores down 6 points and writing scores down 9 points since 2007.

Closing the Achievement Gap
Minority students in Georgia's public schools continue to outperform their peers across the country on the SAT. The 2011 SAT report shows that African-American and Hispanic students in Georgia's public schools are outperforming those subgroups nationally.

Georgia’s African-American public school students outscored their counterparts nationwide on two of the three SAT subsections. Mean Critical Reading scores for Georgia’s African-American public school students are two points higher and mean Writing scores are four points higher than that of African-American students in public schools nationwide.

Hispanic students in Georgia’s public 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 13 points higher, and mean Writing scores are 17 points higher than Hispanic students in public schools nationwide.

The difference between the scores of African-American and White public school students -- called "the achievement gap" -- is 262 points in Georgia, which is 41 points smaller than the achievement gap nationwide (303). The gap between the scores of Hispanic and White public school students in Georgia is 132 points, 88 points lower than the nation (220).

However, Superintendent Barge 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.

“The good news for Georgia is that our achievement gap is much smaller than the nation’s,” Superintendent Barge said. “The bad news is that we still have an achievement gap that must be closed.”

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 2011 who responded to optional questions about their college plans:
- 31 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 2,400. ​