SAT scores drop for Mary­land se­niors in 2016

Baltimore Sun - - MARYLAND - By Liz Bowie and Pamela Wood liz.bowie@balt­sun.com pwood@balt­sun.com

Mary­land’s grad­u­at­ing se­niors scored lower as a group on the SAT than any class in the past 20 years and also scored be­low the na­tional av­er­age, ac­cord­ing to re­sults be­ing re­leased to­day. But a top state ed­u­ca­tion of­fi­cial down­played the sig­nif­i­cance of the de­cline.

Caroll Vis­in­tainer, as­sis­tant su­per­in­ten­dent for as­sess­ment at the Mary­land State De­part­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion, noted that the drop — which con­tin­ued a grad­ual de­cline of many years — was small.

“I ac­knowl­edge there is a drop,” Vis­in­tainer said. She could not ex­plain the de­cline in scores.

Re­sults show that av­er­age scores for Mary­land se­niors on the stan­dard­ized test — taken by most high school stu­dents in the spring of their ju­nior year or fall of their se­nior year — fell in read­ing, math, and writ­ing. The test is widely used for col­lege ad­mis­sions.

Com­pared with 2015, the av­er­age state score dropped 2 points to 490 in crit­i­cal read­ing, 4 points to 490 in math and 4 points to 476 in writ­ing. The high­est score on each sec­tion of the test is 800.

Ex­plain­ing year-to-year changes can be dif­fi­cult, in part be­cause of changes in the pool of stu­dents tak­ing the SAT, which is ad­min­is­tered by the NewYork-based Col­lege Board. The num­ber of Mary­land se­niors tak­ing the test has fallen over the past two years, from nearly 50,000 to roughly 48,000, as more stu­dents take a ri­val test called the ACT.

At the same time, at least two Mary­land school sys­tems have been re­quir­ing all ju­niors to take the SAT, bring­ing into their pool stu­dents who may not be likely to at­tend col­lege and might not have taken the test in the past.

The scores are for se­niors who had taken the SAT at least once in their high school ca­reer.

In the past, Mary­land stu­dents have scored at about the na­tional av­er­age in read­ing and writ­ing but lower in math. This year, Mary­land scores were sig­nif­i­cantly be­low the na­tional av­er­age, par­tic­u­larly in math, which was 18 points lower than the na­tion as a whole.

Car­roll County stu­dents scored higher than the state av­er­age, how­ever.

Car­roll County’s SAT scores were “fairly con­sis­tent” with past years, said Gre­gory Bricca, direc­tor of re­search and ac­count­abil­ity for Car­roll’s school sys­tem. Car­roll’s crit­i­cal read­ing score went up one point to 524, the math score dropped one point to 531 and the writ­ing score fell five points to 505. Over­all, the class scored 1560.

Other school sys­tems in the Bal­ti­more re­gion were not im­me­di­ately able to pro­vide their county’s scores.

In Car­roll, the uptick in crit­i­cal read­ing con­tin­ued an up­ward trend and was the high­est read­ing score in the last five years, Bricca said. The math score was the sec­ond-high­est in the past five years.

Car­roll County ed­u­ca­tors have been try­ing to em­pha­size col­lege-readi­ness to stu­dents, Bricca said. Start­ing in ninth grade, stu­dents who are think­ing about at­tend­ing col­lege are en­cour­aged to de­velop a plan that cul­mi­nates in Ad­vanced Place­ment cour­ses or dual en­roll­ment at Car­roll Com­mu­nity Col­lege.

Those more rig­or­ous classes can help stu­dents do bet­ter on the SAT, Bricca said.

In Car­roll, about 60 per­cent to 65 per­cent of stu­dents in each grad­u­at­ing class typ­i­cally take the SAT, he said. Stu­dents in Car­roll choose to take the test on their own, un­like some coun­ties where the school sys­tem of­fers the test dur­ing the school day or pays the test­ing fees.

The most sig­nif­i­cant drops in SAT scores came two years ago, when Bal­ti­more County and Prince Ge­orge’s County be­gan giv­ing the tests to the en­tire11th grade dur­ing the school day.

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