Tuesday, August 25, 2009

SAT: Georgia's Minority Students Outperform Nation

Minority students in Georgia public schools continue to outperform African-American and Hispanic students across the country on the SAT.

But, the College Board's 2009 SAT report also shows that Georgia must remain committed to closing the achievement gap and preparing all students for the 21st century.

"It is good news that our African-American and Hispanic students are doing better than their peers nationally," said State Superintendent of Schools Kathy Cox. "But Georgia is a very diverse state and if we are serious about raising our SAT scores, we must be fully committed to closing the achievement gap.”

Overall, Georgia, like the nation, saw a slight drop in the SAT scores of 2009 high school graduates.

Georgia's public, private and home school students scored 1,460 on the SAT, down six points from 2008. The national average was 1,509, down two points from the previous year. Public school students scored 1,450 on the exam, down three points from 2008. The national average score was 1,493, down two points from the previous year.

The Need to Close the Gap

The 2009 SAT report clearly shows that African-American and Hispanic students in Georgia's public schools are outperforming those subgroups nationally.

- African-American students in Georgia public schools scored 1,274, which was 10 points higher than the national average for African-American public school students (1,264).

- Hispanic public school students in Georgia scored a 1,412, which was 66 points higher than the national average (1,346).

The difference between the scores of African-American and white public school students -- called "the achievement gap" -- is 274 points in Georgia, which is 34 points smaller than the achievement gap nationwide (308). The gap between the scores of Hispanic and white public school students in Georgia is 136 points, 90 points lower than the nation (226).

However, Superintendent Cox 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 274 and 136 point gaps,” Superintendent Cox said. “As a state, we have 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 a world-class education.”

Superintendent Cox 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 Advanced Placement (AP) classes and the 2009 data shows that it is working. The number of students taking AP classes jumped more than 11 percent, overall. The biggest increase in enrollment was among African-American students (+16.2%) and Hispanic students (+19.3 percent). This is important because students who take even one year of AP classes in any subject will score higher on the SAT.

“Our school districts have been working to engage more of our minority students in rigorous classes,” Superintendent Cox said. “But I want us to come together and agree to redouble our efforts to close the achievement gap in Georgia once and for all. I am confident that working hand-in-hand we can make it happen.”

Over the next several weeks, Superintendent Cox said she will be in contact with local school districts, especially those with a high minority enrollment.

Raising Math Achievement

Superintendent Cox pointed out that, overall, Georgia trails the national average on the mathematics portion of the SAT by 24 points, which is far more than the state is trailing in reading (11 points) and writing (14 points).

"If we are going to improve student achievement, including our SAT scores, then we must be serious about improving math achievement in Georgia," Superintendent Cox said. "With our new curriculum, we are making sure that all students are getting a strong foundation in mathematics that will prepare them not only for the SAT, but for the colleges and careers of the 21st century."

The 2009 SAT Report to the Nation reflects the scores of last year's senior class. None of those students were taught using the state's new math curriculum, the Georgia Performance Standards (GPS). Implementation of the math GPS began with sixth-graders in 2005 and has been phased in one grade per year. Students in the class of 2012 will be the first graduating class to have been fully instructed in GPS mathematics during secondary school.

High Participation and Ongoing Analysis

Georgia remains one of 24 "high participation" states, where more than 40 percent of the students take the SAT. In Georgia, 71 percent of all students took the SAT, much higher than the national participation rate of 46 percent.

While overall SAT participation in Georgia went up slightly this year, participation in Georgia public schools dropped more than eight percent. Meanwhile, the number of public school students taking the ACT increased over 11 percent in 2009. (ACT RESULTS)

The state continues to offer all high school students free access to the College Board’s Official SAT Online Course. In 2008, students who used the course scored 48 points higher than those who did not.

“If you have a high school student, get them enrolled in this course today and make sure they start using it,” Superintendent Cox said. “This is an incredibly valuable tool that has a big impact on SAT performance.” For more information, go to: www.gadoe.org/SATPrepClass

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.

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