More county students take SAT, AP tests

Report to school board shows some improvement

October 20, 2004|By Sara Neufeld | Sara Neufeld,SUN STAFF

The number of Baltimore County students taking the SAT and Advanced Placement exams continued to grow in the 2003-04 school year, according to a report presented to the school board last night.

The report, issued annually, contains a compilation of test scores and other indicators of student achievement from the 2003-2004 school year. It shows many test scores improving, and a narrowing of the achievement gap between African-American and white students in reading.

That achievement gap remains substantial, however. And while SAT participation increased, there was a slight decline in the average SAT score, as well as in the graduation rate.

Fifty-two percent of the Class of 2004 took the SAT, the standard college entrance exam, at least once during high school. That exceeded the national participation rate of 48 percent of high school graduates. Participation among Baltimore County's African-American students increased to 43 percent.

Towson High School had the highest SAT participation rate: 83 percent. Chesapeake High, at 19 percent, had the lowest.

In the spring, 3,050 county high school students, or nearly one in 10, took 6,390 AP exams. Schools across the country are working to increase the number of students taking AP classes and exams because passing exam scores can earn students college credits.

But participation rates varied greatly among schools. Among African-American students, 322 took 546 AP exams. That was a significant increase: In the spring of 2000, 142 African-Americans took 206 AP exams. The exam pass rate for African-American students was 44 percent, an increase of 8 points from 2003 and 11 points from 2000.

Nonetheless, the pass rate for African-American students, who make up more than a third of the school district's enrollment, is still far below the pass rates of 71 percent for all Baltimore County students and 62 percent for students worldwide.

Other highlights of the report:

Baltimore County schools had one computer for almost every four students in the 2003-2004 school year.

Eighty-six percent of the county's high school seniors graduated with regular diplomas in the spring, a decrease from 88 percent in 2003. The dropout rate was 4.4 percent of high school enrollment, up from 3.3 percent the previous year. The school district's dropout rate has increased every year and is higher for males.

Ninety percent of county teachers and 61 percent of classroom aides met the "highly qualified" standard under the federal No Child Left Behind law.

The law requires all teachers and aides to be highly qualified by the 2005-2006 school year.

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