SAT scores hold steady at 4 schools

Key adds 52 points, but others show little change

Math average up slightly

More seniors taking the test in Carroll and statewide

October 21, 2001|By Jennifer McMenamin | Jennifer McMenamin,SUN STAFF

The SAT scores for Carroll County's high school seniors fluctuated only slightly last school year while still remaining about 20 points ahead of state and national averages.

The average math score for Carroll's Class of 2001 rose 5 points from the previous year's average, to 526, while the average verbal score slid 1 point, to 511.

"Historically, when we look at our five-year trends, we're fairly consistent," Gregory J. Bricca, supervisor of accountability and assessment for the Carroll school system, said Friday at a news conference to release the test results.

"So on a whole, as a dipstick measure, this is saying that kids taking the SATs and planning to go to college are as well prepared as they have been in Carroll County," he said.

Combined scores for the county's five high schools varied widely, from a 52-point rebound at Francis Scott Key High (to 1,048) to a 7-point drop at Westminster High (to 1,027).

Scores at South Carroll High climbed 6 points (to 1,052) while North Carroll High students gained 2 points (to 1,025) and Liberty High scores remained the same (at 1,042).

The SAT is typically taken by college-bound seniors and is used in the college admissions process as a gauge of students' potential for success in their first year of college.

The two parts of the test - math and verbal - are scored on a scale of 200 to 800 points.

In the absence of statistically significant changes in overall scores from the previous year, Carroll school officials cheered the increased percentage of members of the Class of 2001 who chose to take the SAT.

Participation up

They pointed to the percentage - the county's highest since 1997 - as a sign that more students are choosing rigorous courses and considering college as a possibility after graduation.

Sixty-three percent of Carroll's 1,660-member Class of 2001 took the SAT last year, according to statistics reported to the College Board, compared with 56 percent of the Class of 2000 and 59 percent of the classes of 1998 and 1999.

That increase has not traditionally translated into a steady rise in the percentage of graduating seniors who intend to go to a two- or four-year college after commencement.

Sixty percent of Carroll's Class of 2000 said they planned to go to college, according to data reported to the State Department of Education.

In 1999, 57 percent intended to go to college compared with 60 percent in 1998 and 62 percent in 1997. Data for the Class of 2001 will be released next month.

Most of Maryland's school systems reported SAT scores in late August. But because Carroll school officials did not order their test results in time, they did not receive results until last week.

State scores slightly higher

Statewide, average SAT scores inched upward last school year. Scores in most metropolitan districts were either unchanged or declined slightly.

The most obvious exception to the trend was Baltimore County, where seniors registered a 24-point gain.

Maryland scores have been stagnant for several years, but 5,400 more seniors took the SAT last school year than in 1997, mirroring a nationwide increase in test-taking.

Since the SAT is taken by college-bound seniors - a self-selecting group - a high participation rate tends to result in lower scores.

Rigorous program helps

Scores for Carroll's Class of 2001 showed that:

Students who have pursued a rigorous academic program continue to outscore those who have not.

Carroll students who had taken British literature or introductory analysis by their senior year earned an average score of 1,097 - 205 points higher than students who had not met the benchmark for a rigorous academic program.

About 81 percent of the 1,046 test-takers studied British literature while 66 percent took introductory analysis.

Male students continue to score higher in math than their female classmates.

Boys scored 538, compared with the average score of 514 for girls.

Carroll's girls scored above state and national averages in math.

Female students outscored male students on the verbal test - 514 for girls compared with 508 for boys - breaking with state and national trends.

With the exception of Hispanic and Latino seniors and those who described their race as "other," minority students continued to score below white students on both the verbal and math tests.

But school officials said the number of minority students sitting for the exam was so small - 69 took the SAT last year - that fluctuations in scoring results are difficult to interpret.

Of 1,046 students who took the SAT in Carroll, 824 were white, 15 were African-American, 14 were Hispanic or Latino, 12 were Asian, eight were American Indian or Alaskan Native and 20 described themselves as "other."

One hundred and fifty-three students did not report their race.

The county's SAT results are available on the school system's Web site at http://ccpl.carr.org/ccps/about/sat.htm.

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