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For Immediate Release
Tuesday, August 31, 2004
Contact:Heidi B. Perlman 781-338-3106

Combined Participation and Results Rank Massachusetts at Top of SAT Chart

MALDEN - Continuing more than a decade of steady improvement, Massachusetts’ high schoolers once more bested their peers regionally and nationwide on the SATs in 2004, scoring an average of 518 on the verbal exam and 523 on the math, with 85 percent participating.

Nationally, just two other states - Connecticut and New York - had a participation rate of 85 percent or higher, and Massachusetts outscored students in both states. According to the 2004 SAT results released Tuesday by the College Board, 48 percent of students nationwide participated in the exam, scoring an average of 508 on the verbal and 518 on the math.

“Once more, our students have shown that they are not just learning to squeak by in school, they are learning to strive for high goals, and in many cases, reach them,” said Education Commissioner David P. Driscoll. “By besting the nation once again on the SATs, our students and teachers have given educators around the country yet another reason to look to Massachusetts as a state that knows how to succeed.”

The state’s 2004 average represents a significant jump from 1994, when just 76 percent of students participated, scoring an average of 502 on the verbal, and 500 on the math exam.

This year’s results also show some improvement over just last year, when 82 percent of students participated, scoring average of 516 on the verbal exam and 522 on the math.

Massachusetts’ public school students scored an average of 511 on the verbal, up two points from last year, and 519 on the math up one point from last year. Parochial school students scored an average of 537 on the verbal and 525 on the math; and private school students scored an average of 596 on the verbal and 606 on the math.

Both males and females outscored their peers nationwide on both exams. Girls averaged 513 on the verbal exam, up 2 points from last year, up 10 points from 1995, and 9 points above the national average of 504. On the math exam girls averaged 506, down one point from last year, but up 20 points from 1995, and 5 points above the national average of 501.

Boys averaged 523 on the verbal exam, up one point from last year, up 16 points from a decade ago, and 11 points over the national average of 512. On the math exam boys averaged 541, up two points from last year, 21 points from a decade ago, and 4 points over the national average of 537.

Among ethnic groups, a performance gap was still evident in results from both exams. Black students averaged 428 on the verbal and 424 on the math, Hispanics averaged 443 on the verbal and 445 on the math, Asians averaged 495 on the verbal and 567 on the math, and white students averaged 526 on the verbal and 528 on the math.

“We cannot sit back and think our jobs are done until this gap has been obliterated,” Driscoll said. “I will not be satisfied until I see more evidence that all of our students - regardless of race - are getting the quality education they need to succeed in the classroom, on exams like the SATs, and in the world after high school. I am proud of the strides we’ve taken so far, but recognize that in this area, we are still far from our goal.”

Other findings released in this year’s report include:

  • Students who took the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test scored higher on the SAT than those who did not. Those who took it as a junior only scored an average of 508 on the verbal and 511 on the math, those who took it twice scored an average of 547 on the verbal and 551 on the math. Those who never took the preliminary exam scored an average of 476 on the verbal and 481 on the math.
  • Students scored at least a 3 out of 5 on 24,896 of the 35,261 Advanced Placement exams taken in Massachusetts in 2004. Among the most popular AP exams were English Literature and Composition (73 percent scored a 3 or higher); U.S. History (62 percent scored a 3 or more); and Calculus AB (76 percent scored a 3 or more.)
  • Students who learned English as their first language scored an average of 525 on the verbal and 524 on the math. Students who learned English and another language averaged 478 on the verbal and 491 on the math. Those who learned another language before English averaged 464 on the English and 501 on the math.
  • 52 percent of Massachusetts’ test-takers requested that their results be sent to the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. The second most popular choice was Northeastern University, followed by the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth and Boston University.


  • Last Updated: August 31, 2004
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