The performance of Virginia high school seniors on the SAT I improved significantly in 2005 as black and Hispanic students increased their achievement on both the mathematics and verbal portions of the college-readiness test, according to results released today by The College Board. The average mathematics score of Virginia public school seniors increased by 6 points, which was the largest increase in mathematics achievement among states in which the SAT I is the predominate college admissions test. The number of Virginia students taking Advanced Placement (AP) tests and qualifying for college credit also increased sharply. The number of Virginia public high school students who took at least one AP test increased by 13.7 percent, from 34,114 in 2004 to 38,787 in 2005. Public school students in the commonwealth took 69,252 AP examinations in 2005, an increase of 13.8 percent over 2004. The number of examinations taken by public school students earning a score of 3 or above increased by 10.9 percent in 2005 to 41,854. During 2005, 60.4 percent of the AP exams taken by Virginia students earned a grade of 3 or better, compared with the national average of 57.5 percent. “By expanding access to AP classes, we have challenged students to take these rigorous courses and earn college credit while completing high school,” said Governor Mark R. Warner. “Our efforts to increase the rigor of secondary education are producing results and students are getting more out of their high school experience.” Virginia high schools report that 28,279 students are participating in Governor Warner’s Early College Scholars program and have committed to earning a semester of college credit while completing the requirements for an Advanced Studies Diploma. More than 600 students took AP courses online or via satellite last year through the Virginia Virtual Advanced Placement School and about 1,000 students have signed up for courses for 2005-2006. The virtual school ensures that students in all Virginia high schools have access to a variety AP courses. “By staying the course and maintaining the high expectations for student achievement of the Standards of Learning program, Virginia is producing students who are confident of their academic abilities and are better prepared for college,” said Superintendent of Public Instruction Jo Lynne DeMary. “Students who ten years ago might not have taken the SAT I or AP courses are now reaching higher.”
The number of African-American Virginia public high schools students who took at least one AP test increased by 23.7 percent in 2005 to 3,274, compared with 2,646 in 2004. Black public school students took a total of 5,026 AP tests, 24.6 percent more than in 2004. Virginia students took 5 percent of the AP tests taken by black public school students nationwide. The number of tests taken by African-American public school students in the commonwealth that received a grade of 3 or better increased by 13.6 percent, and a higher percentage of AP examinations taken by black students in Virginia (32.5 percent) received a grade of 3 or better than nationwide (26.4 percent). The number of Hispanic students in Virginia high schools who took at least one AP course increased by 20.8 percent in 2005 to 1,896, compared with 1,569 in 2004. Hispanic public school students took a total of 3,181 AP tests, 26.8 percent more than in 2004. The number of AP examinations taken by Hispanic students that received a grade of 3 or better increased by 16.3 percent.
Virginia public school students achieved the largest increase in mathematics achievement on the SAT I in the nation among states in which 48 percent or more public high school students take the test. The average score of the commonwealth’s public school seniors on the mathematics portion of the 2005 SAT I rose six points to 512, which represents a 14-point increase over achievement in 2001 and a 19-point increase over mathematics achievement on the SAT I in 1995. Virginia high school students have been required since 2002 to earn 3 credits in mathematics to earn a Standard Diploma. These credits must be earned by successfully completing courses at or above the level of algebra. At least two of the three courses must be selected from a list that includes Algebra I, Geometry, and Algebra II. Students also take end-of-course SOL tests in these subjects to earn verified credits needed for graduation. Virginia has focused mathematics teacher-training efforts on improving algebra instruction. The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) has provided extensive training in the use of manipulatives to help students grasp mathematical concepts. VDOE also has collaborated with James Madison University to present summer academies on content knowledge and best practices for middle and high school mathematics teachers. The Algebra Readiness Initiative, which was launched in 2000, identifies areas in which students in grades 5-9 lack proficiency and provides tutoring opportunities. Virginia public school seniors achieved an average score of 513 on the verbal portion of the 2005 test, which represents a two-point increase over 2004, a six-point increase over the average score for 2001, and an 11-point increase over 1995’s average verbal score for public school students in the commonwealth.
The performance of African-American public school students in Virginia on the mathematics portion of the SAT I improved by 8 points in 2005 as black students achieved an average score of 429, which was equal to the national average score for black public school students. Black public school students in the commonwealth achieved an average score of 436 on the verbal portion of the test, a 3-point increase over 2004 and 6 points higher than the mean national score for African-American students. Virginia Hispanic public school students posted an average score of 488 on the mathematics portion of the test, an eight-point increase over 2004 and 26 points higher than the 2005 mean score for their peers nationwide. Hispanic public school students in the commonwealth achieved an average score of 487 on the verbal portion of the test, a three-point increase over 2004 and 34 points higher than the national average in 2005 for Hispanic high school seniors. Public school students nationwide in 2005 achieved an average verbal score of 505 and an average score of 515 on the mathematics portion of the test, which represent increases of 1 percent and 2 percent, respectively, over the national average verbal and mathematics scores for 2004. Eighty-two percent, or 46,552 of Virginia’s 2005 SAT I test takers were from public schools. The number of Virginia public school graduating seniors who took the SAT-1 increased by 2,461, or 4.4 percent when compared with 2004. Since 2001, the number of Virginia public school seniors taking the SAT I has risen by 4,656, or 11 percent. Sixty-five percent of Virginia public school seniors took the SAT I in 2005 compared with 61 percent in 1995. African-American students accounted for 8,098, or 17 percent, of Virginia’s 2005 public school SAT I test takers. This represents an increase of 8 percent over the number of black public school students in Virginia who took the SAT I in 2004. Hispanic students accounted for 1,855, or 4 percent, of Virginia’s 2005 public school test takers. This represents an increase of 25 percent over the number of Hispanic public school students who took the SAT I in 2004. The average score of all Virginia high school seniors, including students attending private and parochial schools, on the verbal portion of the SAT I in 2005 was 516, one point higher than the average score of 515 in 2004. The average score of all Virginia seniors on the mathematics portion of the test rose to 514, a 5-point increase over the performance of the class of 2004. Virginia’s average scores (public and private combined) for 2005 compare with national averages of 508 on the verbal portion and 520 on the mathematics portion of the SAT I. Since 2001, the average score of Virginia seniors on the verbal portion of the test has increased by 6 points while the achievement of Virginia students on the mathematics portion is up by 13 points. The Virginia Department of Education does not receive SAT I results disaggregated by school division or school. Inquiries about division- and school-level results should be addressed to local school officials. Some school divisions may still be awaiting results from the College Board.
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