Scholastic Aptitude Test scores dropped this year in both Baltimore and Baltimore County, mirroring downward trends in both the statewide and national scores, school officials said.
In Howard County, however, the Class of 1991 bucked state and national trends with SAT scores that continued to rise.
NB In Baltimore, average scores on the verbal portion of the test
dropped to 352, from 354 the year before. Math scores dropped to 386 from 390. The combined scores totaled 738.
Each test is scored from 200 to 800, with a maximum combined score of 1,600.
The number of students taking the test in the city jumped by 10 percent, from 1,684 last year to 1,854 this year, said Douglas J. Neilson, spokesman for the school system.
Neilson said the larger number of test-takers is the likely reason for the lower scores, since many of the students were taking the tests for the first time.
"Here in Baltimore City, we have been trying to put more emphasis on kids taking the tests than numbers," said Neilson.
"We were expecting a decline," he said. "It is not as significant as we were anticipating."
Neilson said that Baltimore offers a course in summer school to help prepare students for the SAT.
Baltimore County school spokesman Richard E. Bavaria said college-bound members of the county's Class of 1991 lost a combined four points on the math and verbal portions of the tests. They averaged 432 on the verbal test -- a three-point drop -- and 494 on the math, a one-point slip.
About half the county's seniors took the test, unchanged in recent years.
"This four-point decrease is disheartening but not discouraging," Bavaria said. "Four points is not a major change. . . . But no school system likes to see scores go down. It isn't going to discourage us from keeping on trying."
Despite the drop, he said, county seniors averaged "10 points above the national average on the verbal test and 20 points above the national average in math. We're also three points higher on the verbal for Maryland schools and 19 points higher on the math."
"We're going to continue to prepare kids for the SATs, and we haven't lost sight of the importance of this test as one measure of a student's potential success in college," Bavaria said.
Howard County school officials reported a 12-point rise in their seniors' combined scores. They were up six points to 458 in the verbal, and up six to 517 in the math, for a combined 975.
School officials were jubilant over those figures, which are the highest in memory, said Patti Caplan, a school spokeswoman. "We have shown a pretty steady increase over the years," she said.
Maurice Kalin, associate superintendent for planning and support services, said Howard County students performed well because teachers have high expectations of them. Students also are taking more highly academic courses and parents have VTC supported the school system, he said.
Statewide, SAT scores dropped an average of three points in math to 475 and one point in the verbal portion of the test to 429. Nationally, scores fell two points on each test, to 474 in math and a new low of 422 in the verbal section.
SAT scores from Carroll, Harford and Anne Arundel counties are expected to be released in the next few days. School officials there said they needed more time to evaluate the results and prepare explanations.
College Board officials said a community's aggregate scores on the SATs should not be used as a single measure for comparisons between school districts.