SAT scores in Anne Arundel County changed little for the class of 2005, with the average score steady at 523 in verbal ability and dipping three points to 533 in math.
Severna Park High delivered the highest average scores in the county -- 563 verbal and 580 math -- with Broadneck and South River high schools close behind. Only Severna Park and South River managed combined average scores of 1,100 or better, a benchmark generally reached only by top high schools.
Anne Arundel's scores echoed Maryland's performance as a whole; statewide, the average SAT score was 511 verbal, 515 math, unchanged since 2004. Both in the county and the state, math scores have been trending upward. Verbal performance in Anne Arundel has crept up over the past decade.
Starting next year, SAT reports will include a third test -- writing -- adding another potential 800 points to the range of possible scores. Like the verbal and math tests, the writing test will be scored on a scale of 200 to 800 points, with 500 the numerical center point.
Anne Arundel also outperformed national SAT averages as well as the state's. SAT scores nationwide rose slightly in math and held steady in verbal ability for the class of 2005, reflecting a decade-long trend, test publisher the College Board announced Tuesday.
Among this year's college-bound high school seniors, the average verbal score nationwide was 508, the same as last year. The mean math score rose to 520 from 518 last year. Math scores have risen steadily since the early 1990s, while verbal scores have stagnated since the middle of the last decade.
Northeast High, in Pasadena, posted the highest gain of any high school in Anne Arundel, with a combined 64-point growth in verbal and math scores. Participation of black students on the test rose 20 percent this year.
"This demonstrates the consistent focus of our teachers and administrators," said Eric J. Smith, the superintendent.
SAT scores rose in both Virginia and the District. Virginia's combined average score of 1,030 exceeded the average in Maryland, 1,026, reversing their relative standing in 2004. SAT scores in Virginia have risen by 20 points in math and by 12 in verbal over the past 10 years. In the District, mean scores rose slightly to 490 verbal, 478 math.
College Board officials admonished educators to stress old-fashioned grammar and composition in the classroom, skills that they said had fallen away in recent years. They also urged school systems to offer more challenging classes, such as calculus, to minority students, citing a persisting achievement gap.
The flat verbal score "reminds me that we have to keep an eye on the literary skills so important in college and later life," said Gaston Caperton, College Board president, in a news conference.
The test publisher offered a glimpse of the new SAT writing test, first taken in March by a group of mostly high-achieving high school juniors. In the first three testing sessions, students posted an average writing score of 516. Those 1.4 million students earned average scores of 519 in verbal and 537 of math, higher than the 2005 national average.
College Board officials warned the public not to conclude from those scores that SAT results will rise sharply for the class of 2006. The group that takes the test in the spring is dominated by "very talented juniors," said Wayne Camera, College Board vice president for research and psychometrics. He predicted that the average writing score will remain close to the average verbal score and somewhat lower than the math score when final 2006 results are released.