MCPS Graduates Outscore State, Nation on SAT

September 3, 2015

Scores decline overall; College readiness indicators increase for African American, Hispanic students

The Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) Class of 2015 earned an average combined score of 1629 on the SAT, a 21-point decline from last year’s results. The state of Maryland and the nation saw a drop in overall SAT scores, as well.

Despite the decline, MCPS graduates scored 167 points higher than their peers across the state of Maryland (1462) and 139 points higher than graduates across the nation (1490). Since 2011, the average SAT score for MCPS graduates has fallen by 8 points, while scores across the state and the nation have fallen by 30 points and 10 points, respectively.

“Many of our students are scoring at a high level on the SAT and are demonstrating a readiness for college-level work,” said Larry A. Bowers, interim superintendent for MCPS. “However, we need to study this data to better understand why we saw a decline in performance this year and determine how we can better prepare all our students for success after high school.”

The SAT college entrance examination includes three sections—critical reading, mathematics, and writing—each of which is worth a maximum of 800 points. The average score for the MCPS Class of 2015 was a 542 on the critical reading section (down 5 points from 2014); 554 on the mathematics portion (down 6 points); and 533 on the writing portion (down 9 points).

“The Montgomery County Board of Education and I have made improving literacy and mathematics performance a strategic priority this year,” Mr. Bowers said. “The SAT results bolster our sense of urgency to do this important work.”  

SAT participation fell for the MCPS Class of 2015, with 67.8 percent of graduates taking the college entrance exam at least once, down from 69.1 percent in 2014. Since 2011, the SAT participation rate has fallen nearly 3 percentage points in MCPS, from 70.6 percent to 67.8 percent. At the same time, participation and performance on the ACT is growing.

According to ACT data released last week, 34 percent of the MCPS Class of 2015 took the ACT—up from 30 percent the year before. The average composite ACT score for MCPS rose to 23.9 (out of 36). Among the MCPS Class of 2015, 43.4 percent of graduates took only the SAT, which is more than 4 percentage points lower than the previous year (47.8 percent).

The percentage of MCPS graduates who reached the district’s college readiness benchmarks (1650 on the SAT or 24 on the ACT) was 52.7 percent, which is practically unchanged from the previous year (53.1 percent).  

Among African American MCPS graduates in the Class of 2015, participation on the SAT rose 3 percentage points, to 65.7 percent. African American MCPS graduates scored 1396 on the SAT, down 7 points from 2014, but significantly higher than their peers across the state (1254) and the nation (1277). Among African American graduates, 21.9 percent met the college readiness benchmarks on the SAT or ACT, an increase of 2.5 percentage points from the previous year.

Among Hispanic MCPS 2015 graduates, SAT participation fell by 1 percentage point and the average combined score was unchanged, at 1461. Statewide, scores for Hispanic graduates fell by 15 points to 1359 and across the nation, scores fell by 9 points to 1344. The percentage of Hispanic MCPS graduates who met college readiness benchmarks on the SAT or ACT was 28.1 percent, an increase of 1.5 percentage points.

The College Board is making significant changes to the SAT, which go into effect this spring and will change the way the test is taken and scored. More about these changes can be found on the College Board website.

MEMO: SAT Participation and Performance for MCPS Class of 2015

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