August 28, 2007
Director of Communications
Public Information Officer
Number of Students Taking the SAT and ACT Rises
RICHMOND – Governor Timothy M. Kaine today announced that the number of Virginia public high school students taking Advanced Placement (AP) examinations increased by more than 11 percent in 2007. According to results released today by the College Board, the number of AP exams taken by Virginia public school students who qualified for college credit rose by 12.3 percent, compared with 9.3 percent for public school students nationwide.
More public school students in the Commonwealth took the SAT and ACT in 2007 than during the previous year, and participation by minority students increased sharply. Virginia continues to have one of the highest participation rates in the nation on the SAT, with 69 percent of seniors in public high schools and 73 percent overall taking the college admissions test.
"These results indicate more of our students are eager to move beyond competence and are pursuing excellence by engaging in high school coursework that is more challenging," Governor Kaine said. "I congratulate these students, their parents and teachers who work hard every day to prepare our young people for college or for work."
"Every year, more Virginia high school students demonstrate that they are prepared for the rigor of college-level courses," said Superintendent of Public Instruction Billy K. Cannaday Jr. "The rising number of students taking the SAT and ACT also indicates that more students are setting their sights on post-secondary education."
Advanced Placement Tests
This year, 49,834 Virginia public high school students took at least one AP exam, an 11.3-percent increase over the previous year. The number of AP examinations taken by public school students in the Commonwealth increased 11.7 percent, to 90,198. The number of AP tests that earned a grade of 3 or above out of a possible 5, generally qualifying for college credit, increased by 12.3 percent.
- The number of African-American public school students in Virginia taking at least one AP examination rose 11.4 percent in 2007, to 4,397, and the number of AP tests taken by African-American public school students increased by 9 percent. Of the 6,707 AP examinations taken by African-American public school students, 2,191 received a grade of 3 or better, an increase of 9.6 percent.
- More Hispanic students also are taking AP courses and qualifying for college credit. The number of Hispanic students in public high schools who took at least one AP examination rose 18.4 percent in 2007 to 2,733, and the number of tests taken increased by 20.3 percent. Of the 4,536 AP tests taken by Hispanic students during 2007, 2,406 received a grade of 3 or above, a 17.6 percent increase.
Virginia last year joined a select handful of states in which 20 percent or more of high school seniors earned a grade of 3 or more on an Advanced Placement (AP) examination. The College Board will release updated state rankings early next year in its annual Advanced Placement Report to the Nation.
Increasing the number of students who successfully complete college-level courses is one of Governor Kaine's goals for promoting excellence in public education. Virginia encourages participation in AP courses through the Early College Scholars Program and the Virginia Virtual Advanced Placement School. To qualify as an Early College Scholar participant, a student must maintain a "B" average or better, pursue an Advanced Studies Diploma and complete college-level course work equal to at least 15 transferable college credits.
More Students Take SAT
The number of students in Virginia public schools who took the SAT Reasoning Test increased by 9 percent in 2007 to 51,677. Public school participation nationwide was up by 5.5 percent. Participation among minority students in the Commonwealth's public schools jumped sharply.
- African-American participation increased by 16.5 percent with 9,592 taking the test.
- Participation by Hispanic students was up 21 percent with 2,463 taking the SAT.
A national decline in average scores on the SAT was mirrored in the results for Virginia students. The College Board attributes the declines to an increase in the number of students taking the SAT, both in the Commonwealth and nationwide. The College Board also says that the mandatory essay, which was added to the SAT in 2006, continues to discourage some students from retaking the test to earn a higher score. Data from 2007 also suggests that some students are choosing to take the ACT as an alternative to retaking the SAT.
On the critical reading portion of the SAT, Virginia public school students achieved an average score of 507, which was a two-point decrease from 2006. The national average for critical reading for public school seniors was 498, which was also down two points.
Virginia public school students achieved an average score of 509 on the mathematics portion of the SAT, which was down three points from 2006. The national average score on the mathematics portion of the SAT in 2007 also was 509, which represented a five-point decline.
Virginia public school students outperformed their counterparts nationwide on the essay section of the test by earning an average score of 494, compared with the national mean of 488. Achievement on the essay slipped three points in Virginia public schools and four points among public school students nationwide.
African-American and Hispanic public school students in Virginia outperformed their peers nationwide on all three sections of the test.
Each of the three sections of the SAT is scored on a scale of 200-800, with 2,400 representing the highest possible combined score.
ACT Participation and Achievement Increase
While the SAT remains the dominant college admissions test in the Commonwealth, the number of Virginia high school students taking the ACT jumped by 27.6 percent last year. During 2007, 11,713 Virginia public school students took the ACT, compared with 9,182 in 2006 and 7,317 during 2003.
The achievement of Virginia students on the ACT has risen significantly during the last five years. Last year, Virginia public school students achieved a composite score of 21.2 on the test, compared with 20.9 in 2006 and 20.5 in 2003. The ACT is scored on a scale of 1 to 36, with 36 being the highest possible score. ACT describes increases in achievement of 0.05 points or greater as statistically significant.