Va. SAT Scores Higher than US in Reading, Lagging in Math

September 14, 2011

Virginia's graduating high school seniors scored higher than the nationwide average on the reading and writing sections of the SAT college-entrance exam but lower than their national peers in mathematics, according to a report released Wednesday.

The 61,398 Virginia public, private and home-schooled seniors who took the test through June 2011 had an average score of 512 in critical reading, 509 in math and 495 in writing, according to the College Board, which administers the test. Each section has a top score of 800.

The 2011 national SAT averages are 497 in reading, 514 in math and 489 in writing on the test, compared to 2010 averages of 501 in reading, 516 in math and 492 in writing, the College Board said. Nearly 1.65 million students across the nation took the test this year.

College Board officials said the lower average scores reflect the record number of seniors taking the exam and the growing diversity of the test-taking pool, particularly Hispanics. As more students aim to attend college and take the SAT, average scores fall. There also was a drop in the number of students retaking the SAT and improving on their initial performance.

Virginia's average reading scores were unchanged from last year's, but down slightly from last year's averages of 512 in math and 497 in writing.

Public high school seniors — 90 percent of Virginia's test-taking pool — scored an average of 509 in reading, 507 in math and 492 in writing.

Students in Virginia's religious and independent schools outperformed them by substantial margins. Students at religiously affiliated schools (6 percent of test-takers) averaged 540 in reading, 534 in math and 529 in writing. Independent-school seniors (4 percent of test-takers) scored 559 in reading, 560 in math and 555 in writing.

Test-takers from "other or unknown" schools — slightly more than 2,240 students — scored 488, 468, and 466.

In Virginia, male students averaged 514 in reading, 525 in math and 486 in writing, compared to female students' 509 in reading, 494 in math and 503 in writing.

Large gaps remain among Virginia's racial subgroups, as is the case with national test takers.

Students who described themselves as of Asian descent (9 percent of all test takers) averaged 529 in reading, 581 in math and 529 in writing. Whites (58 percent of test takers) averaged 539 in reading, 531 in math and 520 in writing. Black seniors (21 percent of test takers) averaged 434 in reading, 427 in math and 419 in writing. Those who described themselves as non-Mexican or non-Puerto Rican Hispanics (4 percent of test takers) averaged 489 in reading, 486 in math and 474 in writing.

Students who classified themselves as "other" (4 percent of test takers) scored 516 in reading, 506 in math and 499 in writing. Those who didn't specify their race (2 percent of test takers) scored 486 in reading, 475 in math and 466 in writing.

Virginia Department of Education officials noted Wednesday that the class of 2011 "represented the largest and most diverse pool of college-bound students in the state's history" and that 40 percent of Virginia's public high school seniors who took the SAT were members of a minority group.

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