SAT scores drop for Georgia students
Scores down nationwide
ATLANTA — Georgia’s 2007 high school graduating class performed worse on the SAT college-entrance exam than the class before them, even as the state’s rank remained the same compared to other states.
The report on the slip in scores comes a year after Gov. Sonny Perdue and state schools Superintendent Kathy Cox — both of whom were running for re-election at the time — touted Georgia’s improvement on the test.
Overall, the nearly 60,000 students who took the standardized test in Georgia scored an average of 1,472 out of a possible 2,400, a five-point drop from last year. The nation’s average score fell seven points to 1,511.
Georgia still ranks 46th in the nation for SAT scores, the same as last year, which was a slight improvement over 2005’s last place finish for the state.
The test’s administrators, the College Board, discourages the use of the test scores to compare education from state to state because the percentage of students who take them varies widely.
Close to 70 percent of Geor- gia’s seniors took the SAT, the 13th highest participation rate in the nation and a slight increase from last year. The state had the largest rate of black students taking the test in the nation with 26 percent.
Typically, states with larger pools of test takers fare worse in the rankings.
Georgia students scored the same as last year — an average of 494 — on the critical reading portion of the test. The math score dropped one point to 495, and the writing score declined four points to 483.
Cox called the scores “good news” when they are compared how the nation performed.
“In terms of the overall picture, the fact the whole nation went down doesn’t make me quite as worried as if it was just Georgia and not the rest of the country,” Cox said in a telephone interview.
The state has a new math curriculum in place that will help address some of the lagging scores, she said. But that kind of curriculum takes a few years to actually show results because students have to cycle through the educational pipeline, she said.
“The scores showed me we’re on the right track. We just have to keep at it,” Cox said.
Perdue said he’s proud that so many Georgians take the test.
“While we never like to gain ground by allowing our scores to go down, Georgia was again able to close the gap with the national average, continuing a positive trend for the sixth year in a row,” Perdue said.
The high school class of 2006 recorded the sharpest drop in SAT scores in 31 years, in part because some students took a revamped, lengthened test only once instead of twice, according to the College Board, which owns the exam.
The new test included higher-level math questions, added a writing portion for the first time ever and eliminated analogies.
The College Board insisted the new exam wasn’t harder and attributed last year’s drop to fewer students taking the exam a second time. Students typically fare about 30 points better when they take the exam again.
The College Board’s score report, released Tuesday morning, did not offer an explanation why this year’s scores were even lower, but it did note that a record number of students — just short of 1.5 million — took the test.
Jeff Hubbard, president of the Georgia Association of Educators, said schools need proper funding to ensure they can help students do well on standardized tests like the SAT.
“It still shows we have a long way to go to meet needs of Georgia students,” he said.