“It’s impressive to see such a significant jump in one year,” said David M. Foster, president of the Virginia Board of Education. “We saw increases across the board and some narrowing of the achievement gap.”
It made for Virginia’s best-ever overall score on the current version of the SAT, which dates to 2005. Reflecting statewide gains, Northern Virginia’s public schools fared better this year. Fairfax County public schools saw a four-point rise in overall scores, to 1663; Arlington County students also saw a four-point spike, to 1645; Loudoun County students saw an increase of 16 points, to 1606; and Prince William County reported an eight-point gain, to 1498. The City of Alexandria declined to release its SAT data.
The SAT and the other major college entrance exam, the ACT, are crucial for students seeking admission to selective schools. The ACT has recently surpassed its rival in market share, with about 1.8 million students from the Class of 2013 taking it, compared with 1.66 million who took the SAT. But the SAT has a much greater presence in Virginia, the District and Maryland.
Nationally, the results for the Class of 2013 mirrored those for the preceding year’s class. Average scores in critical reading (496), math (514) and writing (488) were all unchanged. Each section of the exam is worth 800 points.
What’s more, the share of students who met or exceeded a benchmark that the College Board considers a key predictor of “college and career readiness” — a composite score of 1550 — has been virtually unchanged for the past five years. The share now stands at 43 percent.
Considered another way, that means 57 percent of this year’s high school graduates who took the test did not meet the readiness benchmark.
“While some might see stagnant scores as no news, we at the College Board consider it a call to action,” David Coleman, the nonprofit organization’s president, said in a conference call with reporters. He said schools must expand access to rigorous course work for all students. “We are impatient with the state of progress.”
In February, Coleman said that the College Board plans a makeover of the SAT. He said Tuesday that the board expects to announce more about the test’s redesign in January.