- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 30, 2005

The Class of 2005 in the District had the lowest overall average SAT score in the country, while its counterparts in Maryland and Virginia remained steady in the verbal and math sections, test scores released yesterday by the College Board show.

D.C. high schools had the lowest overall average score — 968, according to the College Board, which owns and administers the SAT. Maryland stayed steady at last year’s total of 1026, while Virginia’s cumulative score was 1030, up six points from last year.

The national average was 1028, up two points from last year. The highest possible score is 1600.

Among the states nationally, Iowa had the highest cumulative score with 1204, followed by Illinois with 1200 and North Dakota with 1195. Georgia and South Carolina each had the lowest score of 993.

The District’s score of 968 was up from 965 last year. The average verbal score was 490 out of a possible 800 points, up a point from 489 last year. The average math score was 478, up from 476 the previous year.

The national average verbal score was 508, and the average math score was 520.

D.C. school officials would not comment yesterday, saying they were analyzing the scores.

Most local jurisdictions had not received their data from the College Board yesterday or received it too late for officials to properly review it and comment.

Students in Virginia achieved the largest math increase in the country.

The average math score was 514, a five point increase from last year. The average verbal score was 516, up from 515 the previous year.

“Virginia is producing students who are confident of their academic abilities and are better prepared for college,” said state Superintendent Jo Lynne DeMary. “Students who 10 years ago might not have taken the SAT I or [Advanced Placement] courses are now reaching higher.”

Students in Maryland held solid across the board, with its math and verbal averages unchanged from last year, at 511 in the verbal section and 515 in the math section, test scores showed.

The averages for graduating black students are up since last year, officials said.

The average verbal score increased four points to 434, while the math score increased three points to 426. Nearly 17 percent more black students took the SAT than last year, and black students accounted for 24 percent of students who took the test.

“We are seeing the results of our intense effort to close achievement gaps, particularly between our African-American and white students,” said state Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick.

About 1.48 million students took the SAT.

The Class of 2005 earned the highest-ever marks on the math section. Though the 2-point gain from last year was modest, the latest scores are part of a 25-year trend of gradual improvement.

Nevertheless, significant gaps between racial groups remain.

“These results provide further evidence that we as a nation must do more to ensure that all students graduate from high school ready for college and the workplace,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings.

“While I’m encouraged that the SAT results show an improvement in math scores, the data shows that we still have achievement gaps to close and reading skills to improve.”

The College Board also released its first glimpse of data on the new version of the SAT, which features a writing section with an essay, and which members of the Class of 2006 began taking last spring. Those students appeared to find the new section the hardest, with average scores of 516, compared with 519 in critical reading (the new name for verbal) and 537 in math.

Officials said those scores would likely decline when the final scores for the class are released next year. Students who take the test as juniors are generally more highly motivated and do better than average.

• George Archibald contributed to this article, which is based in part on wire service reports.

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