Thursday, 4:30 PM
SAT scores dip in Mass. for first time in 15 years
By Tracy Jan, Globe Staff
Massachusetts scores on the 2006 SATs dipped for the first time in 15 years, mirroring a national decline on the revamped college entrance exam, according to results released today.
Officials from the College Board, which administers the exams, attributed the small drop in reading and math scores to the introduction of a writing component, which lengthened the exam by 45 minutes and caused fewer students to sit for retakes.
This year’s high school graduates in Massachusetts scored an average of 513 on the reading portion, a seven point drop from last year. They scored an average of 524 on the math section, down three points. And they scored an average of 510 on the new writing portion. Each section is worth 800 points.
Nationally, the Class of 2006 scored an average of 503 on the reading section, down five points from the previous year. They earned an average of 518 on the math section, down two points. And they averaged 497 on the writing portion.
State Education Commissioner David P. Driscoll called the decline "disturbing," but agreed with the College Board's theories about why the scores went down.
“One year of declining results does not erase the 14 years of steady progress we have made on the SAT,” Driscoll said in a written statement. “While any drop in performance is unsettling, without a multi-year drop in our numbers it is impossible to tell if this is the start of a downward trend, or merely a blip we will make up next year.”
Across the country, 48 percent of this year’s 3.04 million high school graduates took the SAT, according to College Board. Eighty-five percent of high school seniors in Massachusetts took the test, putting the state second only to New York State, which had an 88 percent participation rate.
Nationally, the overall combined scores for mathematics and critical reading dropped by seven points from last year, which is less than 1 percentage point.
Math scores dipped by 2 points to 518 out of 800. Critical reading scores fell by 5 points to 503, with male students dropping 8 points and female students declining 3 points.
In Massachusetts, as in other states, an achievement gap was still evident when the results are broken down by ethnicity. White students scored the highest on two of the three tests, with a 525 in Reading and a 523 in Writing. Asians led the way in Math with 577.
Black students scored the lowest on all three tests, with a 430 in Reading, a 430 in Math and a 426 in Writing.
However, the number total number of minority students taking the test increased by 7.9 percent from the previous year. College Board also found that the number of black students who took at least one advanced placement exam jumped 19 percent, and the number of Hispanics taking those same tests went up 22 percent.