SAT scores continue upward trend School officials credit strong instructional effort and prep course

September 02, 1998|By Kris Antonelli and Mary Maushard | Kris Antonelli and Mary Maushard,SUN STAFF

Anne Arundel County high school seniors scored above the state and national averages on the SAT college admission test, continuing a six-year trend.

Fifty-five percent of the seniors in the 1998 class took the test, said school officials, who credited a strong instructional program and a SAT preparation course available to sophomores, juniors and seniors.

"This is very good news for us," said Thomas Rhodes, director of program planning.

The SAT prep course is offered in all the high schools, said Diane Sprague, coordinator of the gifted, talented and advanced programs. Students take a practice test at the beginning of the semesterlong course, analyze the results and pinpoint and work on their weaknesses.

"It's like getting ready for the big meet," Sprague said.

The Anne Arundel systemwide average in 1997 was 514 on the verbal portion of the test and 530 on the math portion. This year, dTC the average student score was 513 on the verbal and 533 on the math test.

Overall, Maryland's scores rose one point in math, from 507 to 508, and fell a point in the verbal portion, from 507 to 506, while the number of students taking the test rose by 1 percent.

About 35,800 Maryland high school students took the tests in 1997, putting Maryland among 12 states that have at least 65 percent participation in the national college entrance exam.

Nationally, scores on the math test increased from 511 to 512, the highest score in 27 years, according to the College Board, which administers the test. Scores on the verbal section remained the same as last year, at 505, so the state remains slightly above the national average on the verbal portion and somewhat below in math.

Maryland's combined cumulative score of 1,014 makes it the second highest-performing state in the Mid-Atlantic, surpassed only by West Virginia, which had a combined score of 1,038. Only 18 percent of students there take the test, however.

State officials attributed the drop in verbal scores to a decrease in the number of students studying grammar and composition and an increase in the number of test-takers who have limited English.

Like other groups of Maryland students, more African-American students took the test in 1998 than in previous years. But their performance continued to lag behind other ethnic groups. Scores among black public school students fell this year from 433 to 429 on the verbal portion and from 421 to 419 on the math portion.

Pub Date: 9/02/98

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