TEA News Releases Online
Aug. 25, 2009
SAT scores show mixed results
AUSTIN – SAT results released today show increased scores on the mathematics exam for public and private school students in Texas, while the mean math score nationally remained unchanged.
Tracking a national trend, the critical reading and writing scores declined for Texas public and private students.
The 2009 mean math score for all Texas students was 506, an increase of one point. The mean score on the critical reading test was 486, a decline of two points. The mean writing score was 475, a decline of five points.
The national scores for all students were 501 for critical reading, a one-point drop; 515 for math, which represented no change; and 493 for writing, a one-point decline.
Among public school students nationally, the scores were 496 and 487 for reading and writing, respectively, which represented a one-point decline on both tests. The mean math score held steady at 510.
Among Texas public school students, scores increased for Asian-American students this year, while other student groups had mixed results.
For the state overall, the number of 2009 graduating seniors who took the SAT rose to 141,733, up from 137,024 the previous year. The number of Texas public school seniors tested was 112,485, a decline from 116,875 tested the previous year.
“Today’s SAT results are mixed, which is surprising given last week’s news that ACT scores for Texans students were at a record high. We know an increasing number of students took the ACT this year and higher education enrollments are expected to increase this fall, so more students are seeing college as a viable option,” Commissioner of Education Robert Scott said.
Officials with the College Board, which administers the SAT, said a smaller number of students in Texas are taking the exam more than once, which could be contributing to the decline in scores.
Students who take standardized exams multiple times often earn higher scores the subsequent times they take the exams. Because the state’s Top 10 percent rule guarantees admission to a public university to any student who ranks in the top 10 percent of their graduating class, students may feel less compelled to take the exam multiple times in an effort to raise their score.
College Board officials also noted that the major spring testing period occurred during the H1N1 flu outbreak when thousands of Texas students were ill. About 40 SAT testing sites in Texas were shut down because of the outbreak.
More students are also electing to take the ACT test, which is likely a factor in the declining number of public school students who take the SAT. Some students take both exams. ACT, Inc. reported last week that there was an increase of 3,590 test takers among the 2009 graduating class and a 14,879 student increase among all Texas high school students who took the exam last year. Many juniors and some sophomores take the ACT and SAT.
While the decline on the writing score is significant, it’s worth noting that the writing score has declined both nationally and in Texas since the test’s introduction in 2006. Some testing experts question whether the writing prompts, the topic about which students are asked to write, may be impacting the scores.
Scott said he believed the implementation of college readiness standards, updated curriculum standards and the requirement that all students earn four credits in math, science, social studies and English language arts will better prepare students, which should result in higher test scores.