Massachusetts Public School SAT Results Show Continued Improvement- Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
For Immediate Release
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Contact:JC Considine 781-338-3112

Massachusetts Public School SAT Results Show Continued Improvement

Among Top Participating States, MA Students First in Math, Second in Reading and Writing

MALDEN - The Commonwealth's public high school students once more scored near the top in performance and participation nationally on the 2009 SAT exam while making gains in performance on the reading and math exams, according to results released by the College Board on Tuesday.

Overall, Massachusetts' public high school results increased since 2008 by one point on the Critical Reading exam (from 507 to 508), by two points in Math (from 520 to 522), but decreased by one point in Writing (from 505 to 504). Among states with participation rates of 60 percent or higher, Massachusetts ranked first in Math, second behind New Hampshire in Critical reading (513), and second behind Connecticut in Writing (506).

"Our students make me so proud," said Governor Deval Patrick. "This achievement is a credit to their hard work and the commitment of their teachers and families. We owe it to them to sharpen our focus on closing the achievement gap and giving all students access to the best education possible."

Governor Patrick recently filed legislation that will allow for more rapid turnaround of underperforming schools and promote innovative educational practices with the main goal of preparing all students for success in college and beyond.

Nationwide, public school students showed a decrease on two of the three exams: in Critical Reading students averaged 496, down from 497 in 2008; in Math students averaged 510, the same as in 2008; and in Writing students averaged 487, down from 488 in 2008.

"These results reaffirm that our high school students are continuing to achieve at high levels, and are graduating more prepared for college than ever before," said Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester. "I congratulate our students for their hard work and dedication, and their teachers for their commitment to providing all students with the tools, skills and supports they need to succeed academically in high school and beyond."

"It is increasingly important that our students not only succeed in high school but continue their education past 12th grade," said Education Secretary Paul Reville. "The challenge is to continuously push the education system to ensure that all students graduate high school with the education and skills they need to succeed in college and beyond."

In all, 72 percent of Massachusetts public high school students in the class of 2009 participated, the third highest participation rate in the country behind Maine (100 percent) and New York (76 percent). The average participation rate across the nation was 36 percent.

Among all ethnic groups, the biggest increase in participation was among Hispanic students: 3,296 Hispanic students participated in the testing this year, up from 3070 in 2008 and 2,159 in 2004. Similarly, AP participation overall increased by 5 percent over 2008, with Hispanic students increasing at the highest rate. In all 1,800 Hispanic students took at least one AP exam in 2009, up from 1,478 in 2008.

SAT results broken down by ethnic group show that minority students continue to be outscored by their White and Asian peers:

  • Asian students made the greatest gains and showed improvement on every test: up nine points to 519 on Critical Reading, up nine points to 584 on Math, and up eight points to 521 in Writing.
  • White students went up three points in Critical Reading to 526; up four points in Math to 538 and scored 522 in Writing, the same as last year.
  • African American students showed a decline in Math (down two points to 422), Critical Reading (down four points to 416) and Writing (down eight points to 411).
  • Hispanic students averaged 427 in Writing, up from 426 in 2008, and decreased in Critical Reading (433, down from 434) and Math (440, down from 444).
  • Male students outscored females in Critical Reading (510 to 506) and Math (538 to 507), while female students outscored their male classmates in Writing (511 to 496).

"These persistent achievement gaps in performance are evident across all state and national assessments, and are very troubling to me," Commissioner Chester said. "We face no greater challenge in American education today than in finding ways to narrow and eventually close the achievement disparities between students from different racial/ethnic backgrounds. All students – regardless of race, income or zip code – deserve the skills, support and tools necessary to achieve at high levels."

For additional information on the 2009 SAT reports or to review all results, check the College Board's website at

Last Updated: August 25, 2009

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