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For Immediate Release
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
Contact:Heidi B. Perlman 781-338-3106

2006 SAT Results Show First Decline in 14 Years

MALDEN - Massachusetts’ students had the highest math score of any state with more than 80 percent of students participating on the 2006 SAT, but ultimately showed an overall decline in performance on both the critical reading and math exams.

After 14 years of steady progress, 2006 results showed that the state’s students dropped seven points in reading to an average of 513, dropped three points in math to an average of 524, and scored a 510 on the new Writing exam. National results also dropped five points in reading to an average of 503, dropped two points in math to an average of 518, and students averaged 497 on the Writing exam.

The 2006 SAT was the first ever to include a Writing component in addition to the Reading and Math tests, adding an additional 45 minutes to the testing time. College Board officials said some of the national decline in performance could be either test fatigue, or a result of some students choosing to retain their 2005 results and not re-take the test in 2006.

Education Commissioner David P. Driscoll called the decline “disturbing,” but agreed with the College Board’s explanations and cautioned against being too concerned over results from a single year.

“One year of declining results does not erase the 14 years of steady progress we have made on the SAT,” he said. “While any drop in performance is unsettling, without a multi-year drop in our numbers it is impossible to tell if this is the start of a downward trend, or merely a blip we will make up next year. Regardless, this is something we will watch closely over the coming school year.”

In all, 85 percent of Massachusetts’ public and private high school seniors participated in the 2006 SAT. Nationally just New York had a higher participation rate, with 88 percent participation.

Massachusetts was third in participation among just public school students. In all, 79 percent participated here, as compared to 80 percent in the District of Columbia, and 82 percent in New York. Nationwide 48 percent of all students and 41 percent of public school students participated.

Public school students also showed a decline in performance, dropping seven points to 506 in Critical Reading, and four points to 518 in Math, and scoring a 502 on the Writing exam. Nationally public school students also showed a decline, dropping 5 points to 500 on the Reading exam, dropping 1 point to 514 on the Math and scoring a 492 on the Writing exam.

Statewide, the achievement gap was still evident in results broken down by ethnicity: Asian students scored a 506 in Reading, a 577 in Math and a 508 in Writing; Black students scored a 430 in Reading, a 430 in Math and a 426 in Writing; Hispanic students scored a 444 in Reading, a 447 in Math and a 437 in Writing; White students scored a 525 in Reading, 534 in Math and a 523 in Writing.

However, participation rates showed a significant increase in the percentage of minority students who took the SAT in 2006 from the previous year: Black participation went up 7.9 percent statewide and 11 percent among public school students; Hispanic participation went up 6 percent statewide and 8 percent among public school students.

Overall performance among Black and Hispanic students decreased somewhat, but not significantly: Black students dropped 1 point in Reading and 3 points in Math; Hispanic students gained 3 points in Reading and dropped 2 points in Math.

“I am pleased to see the participation rates of our minority students increasing, but this achievement gap to me is more concerning than the state’s overall decline. All of our students – regardless of race – need to be making progress and unfortunately, in this area, we are far from achieving that goal.”

Advanced Placement (AP) results showed a statewide 7.3 percent increase in the number of students taking the exams, and a 9.7 percent increase in the number of tests that received a score of a 3 or higher. AP exams are graded on a 1-5 scale. Among public school students, results showed a 7.6 percent increase in test-takers and a 10.7 percent increase in the number of tests that received a score of 3 or higher.

PSAT results showed a statewide 10 percent increase in the number of sophomores who took the exam. Students bested the national average, scoring a 45.2 in Reading, 46.9 in math and 47.1 in Writing. Among public school students, participation went up 11.3 percent, and sophomores also bested the national average, scoring a 44.1 in Reading, a 46.2 in Math and a 45.9 in Writing.

Other public school findings include:

  • The number of Black students who took at least one AP exam went up 19 percent, and the number who scored a 3 or higher went up 51 percent. Nationally the number who were tested went up 17 percent and 15 percent scored a 3 or higher.
  • The number of Hispanics who took at least one AP exam went up 22 percent, and the number who scored a 3 or higher went up 14 percent. Nationally the number who were tested went up 12 percent and 10 percent scored a 3 or higher.
  • The top five college majors students indicated plans to pursue were: business and commerce (16 percent), health and allied services (15 percent), social science and history (10 percent), visual and performing arts (9 percent), and education (8 percent).
  • 26 percent plan to pursue a Bachelor’s degree, 27 percent plan to pursue a Master’s degree, 13 percent plan to pursue a Doctoral degree.
  • Test-takers asked that their results be sent to a total of 2,044 different colleges and universities nationwide. The top five were University of Massachusetts at Amherst (37.8 percent), Northeastern University (21.4 percent), Boston University (17.3 percent), University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth (14.4 percent), Bridgewater State College (13.3 percent).



Last Updated: August 29, 2006
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