For Immediate Release
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Contact:JC Considine 781-338-3112

Massachusetts' SAT Scores Continue to Outpace the Nation as Participation Rates Rise Dramatically in 2011

Participation and Performance on AP Exams Also Show Continued Improvement

MALDEN - The Patrick-Murray Administration and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education today announced that Massachusetts public school students continue to outperform the nation on the SAT, and that the percentage of students participating in the SAT rose by 9 percentage points since last year. At the same time, both participation and performance on Advanced Placement (AP) exams improved. "I am pleased to see our students continuing to perform at the top of the nation on this important college entrance exam," said Governor Deval Patrick. "We are working hard to give educators the tools they need to prepare every student for success beyond high school, and we are making progress. There is always more to be done in preparing our young people for the future, so for those kids, we will continue working." According to results released by the College Board, Massachusetts public school students in the class of 2011 had an average score of 505 in Critical Reading (-3 since last year), 521 in Math (-2), and 500 in Writing (-4). Nationally, the average score for public school students was 494 in Critical Reading (-3 since last year), 506 in Math (-4), and 483 in Writing (-3). In Math, Massachusetts continues to outscore all other states where at least 60 percent of public school students participated. Overall, 84 percent of Massachusetts public school students in the class of 2011 participated in the SAT, up from 75 percent last year. Massachusetts' participation rate ranks behind only two states: Maine (100%), where the SAT is used as the state-mandated No Child Left Behind assessment in high school, and New York (85%). "It is encouraging to see more of our high school students taking the SAT and AP exams, thus signaling a desire to pursue higher education," said Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester. "Likewise, it is heartening to see our students of color outpace the participation increases of the state as a whole, as well as make larger performance gains on AP exams than the statewide improvement. I do remain concerned, however, that too many of our students are not being adequately prepared for the world after high school. Our commitment to implementing new college and career ready standards and a new multi-state assessment system to measure those standards will be significant levers to increase the numbers and preparedness of our high school graduates." Massachusetts is one of 24 member states of the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) that is developing the next generation assessment system and tools to dramatically increase the number of students who graduate from high school ready for college and careers. The state has launched additional college and career readiness initiatives aimed at accomplishing two goals: (1) increasing the 5-year high school graduation rate to 88.3 percent for the graduating cohort of 2014 (from 84.0 percent today); and (2) increasing the MassCore completion rate to 82.5 percent (from 70.0 percent today). MassCore is the state's recommended coursework of rigorous high school studies adopted by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education in November 2007. Students who complete MassCore take four years of English and mathematics (including Algebra II), three years of history/social science, three years of lab sciences, two years of foreign language, one year of arts, physical education, and additional core courses and electives. To accomplish these goals, the Administration is: (1) strengthening academic support programs for secondary school students; (2) implementing an Early Warning Indicator System to identify students at risk of dropping out; (3) improving graduation rates in high schools that trail the statewide average through its $15 million federal High School Graduation Initiative grant; (4) turning around the lowest performing high schools; (5) strengthening state policy around MassCore and fostering its implementation; (6) implementing the Massachusetts Model for School Counseling, developed by the Massachusetts School Counselor Association in collaboration with the Department and others, to promote student achievement in the academic/technical, workplace readiness and personal/social domains; and (7) focusing its School-to-Career Connecting Activities more closely on the students in greatest need. In Massachusetts, overall participation in AP exams by public school students rose by 9 percent in 2011, and the number of exams that received scores of 3, 4, or 5 increased by 10 percent since last year. African American students and Hispanic students continued to make large gains in participation (17 percent and 8 percent increases, respectively) and performance (20 percent and 12 percent increases in the number of students scoring 3, 4, or 5, respectively). "While we have every reason to applaud our students' continued success, I am thrilled to see the dramatic increase in participation in Massachusetts and nationwide," said Paul Reville, Secretary of Education. "More of our students are demonstrating their desire to pursue higher education. It remains our responsibility to provide our students with educational opportunities that will inspire them and reward their dedication." Other SAT results for Massachusetts public school students showed:
  • Compared to five years ago, the 2011 scores for Massachusetts public school students were unchanged in Critical Reading (505), six points higher in Math (521 compared to 515), and one point lower in Writing (500 compared to 501).
  • Participation rates for all student ethnic groups increased since last year, including Asian students (+7.0%), African American students (+12.3%), Hispanic students (+10.6%), and white students (+8.0%).
  • Hispanic students saw improved results on two of the three subjects tested, as scores increased by two points in Critical Reading (from 430 to 432) and in Writing (from 422 to 424). Scores for African American students declined by five points in Critical Reading since last year (from 422 to 417), by four points in Math (from 430 to 426), and by seven points in Writing (from 416 to 409); for Asian students, scored declined by nine points in Critical Reading (from 521 to 512), by six points in Math (from 585 to 579), and by eight points in Writing (from 522 to 514); for white students, scores declined by one point in Critical Reading (from 526 to 525), by two points in Math (from 539 to 537) and by four points in Writing (from 523 to 519).
  • A greater percentage of Massachusetts public school students who are taking the SAT are using a fee waiver. Last year, 21 percent of SAT takers among Massachusetts public school students used a fee waiver, compared to 16 percent in 2007-08.
  • For additional information on the state's performance on the 2011 SAT exams, visit the College Board's website at

    Last Updated: September 14, 2011

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