Average SAT score unchanged from '03

Wednesday, September 1, 2004

SAT scores for the high school class of 2004 were mostly the same as a year ago, though scores for some minority groups showed an encouraging increase.

The average cumulative score on the country's most widely taken college entrance exam was 1026, the same as for the class of 2003. Scores on the verbal section rose one point to 508 while math scores fell one point to 518.

The stagnant scores were something of a disappointment following a six-point jump last year from 2002 that produced a 36-year high. But The College Board, which owns the test and was releasing the scores Tuesday, said it was good news that more students are taking the test and signaling they hope to attend college, even if that may have weighed down average results.

Educators in Southeast Missouri say few local students take the SAT. Instead, students here take the ACT, the preferred college admissions test used by most colleges and universities in the M idwest.

"It's really driven by the colleges in this part of the country," said Pat Bratton, a counselor at Jackson High School. "On the East and West Coast, and at Ivy League schools, colleges prefer SATs. But we only have about half a dozen kids take that test each year."

Among students who did take the SAT last year, there was some consolation in improved scores for minorities, who made up a record 37 percent of the 1.4 million test-takers, also a record.

Students identifying themselves as Mexican American boosted their scores nine points to 909. Scores from those identifying themselves as Puerto Ricans were flat at 909, but students in the "other Hispanic" category increased their scores five points to 926.

Amy Schmidt, executive director of higher education research at The College Board, said it's too early to tell whether the minority groups' gains represent a long-term trend. But she said they are significant, given the expanded test-taking pool. For instance, while Mexican American cumulative scores are the same as a decade ago, the number of test-takers has risen by nearly two-thirds.

"The scores are almost immaterial," she said. "The sheer numbers across the board of minorities are growing because these kids are aspiring to go to college."

Staff writer Callie Clark contributed to this report.

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