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For Immediate Release
Tuesday, August 27, 2002
Contact:Heidi B. Perlman 781-338-3106

State High Schoolers Top Nation In 2002 SAT Participation Rate And Results

MALDEN - The state’s students topped the nation on the 2002 SAT exam, scoring a full 26 points higher than they did a decade ago, with an average of 512 on the verbal exam and 516 on the math, and a participation rate of 81 percent.

Nationally, according to College Board results released Tuesday, students scored 504 on the verbal and tied Massachusetts at 516 on the math, with just 46 percent participating. Just Connecticut and New Jersey had higher participation rates, but Massachusetts’ students significantly outscored both states’ averages on the two exams.

On the Advanced Placement exams, 21 percent of test-takers scored a five, the highest possible score, 26 percent scored a four, 27 percent scored a three, 18 percent scored a two and just eight percent scored a one.

Education Commissioner David P. Driscoll applauded the results, but said he still believes schools can do more to press students to perform at even higher levels in the future.

“A commissioner can’t ask for much more than to hear that his state is leading the nation, but I’m still not completely satisfied,” he said. “Other states are more aggressive than we are in aligning their curricula with College Board results and in moving students into Advanced Placement classes. As educators we need to do more to take advantage of the opportunities this testing program provides.”

The Massachusetts results on both exams are one point higher than students fared last year, and together represent an unprecedented increase from 1992, when the state’s teens averaged 503 on the verbal and 499 on the math.

The averages for both males and females in 2002 marked a 10-year high. In all, 47.1 percent of the state’s test-takers were males and 52.9 percent were female.

Boys averaged 515 on the verbal exam, down a point from last year, but eight points higher than the national average of 507. Girls averaged 509 on the exam, two points higher than last year and seven points higher than the national average. On the math exam, boys tied the national average with 534, one point higher than last year. Girls also tied the national average with 500, two points higher than the 2001 mean.

Among ethnic groups, a wide performance gap was evident in the mean results. White students averaged 525 on the verbal and 526 on the math, Asian students averaged 484 on the verbal and 551 on the math, African-American students averaged 434 on the verbal and 427 on the math and Hispanics averaged 445 on the verbal and 444 on the math.

“The performance gap is getting smaller, but cannot be ignored,” Commissioner Driscoll said. “We need to do more to encourage minority students to participate in these exams, and to address the disturbing gap in performance.”

Other findings released in the College Board results include:

  • 27 percent of Massachusetts students took at least one SAT II Subject Test in 2002, three times the national average of nine percent. The state average for the Writing test was 611, up from the 2001 average of 605 and higher than the national average for the seventh consecutive year.
  • Students who took at least one SAT II exam scored well above the state average on the SAT I. On the verbal exam, these students scored an average of 595, compared to 512; on the math exam they scored an average of 609, compared to 516.
  • Students with a high school GPA of an A- or above scored an average of 579 or above on the verbal exam and an average of 591 or above on the math. Nationally, students with the same GPA scored an average of 538 or above on the verbal, and 553 or above on the math.
  • Over the past 10 years, the percentage of test-takers planning to pursue a graduate degree has risen from 40 percent to 44 percent.
  • Of the students who designated at least one college to receive their scores, more than one in three selected the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. The most popular in-state private institution was Northeastern University. The most popular out-of-state public institution was the University of New Hampshire at Durham and the most frequently named out-of-state private school was Providence College.

Last Updated: August 27, 2002
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