Despite declines, Howard County's most recent high school graduates still outperformed others in the state and nationally on the SAT.
According to data released Sept. 24 by the College Board, the school system's class of 2012 scored, on average, 1,632 out of 2,400 on the SAT — down from a 1,646 average a year ago.
"We are looking at the results and trying to identify factors that may have contributed to the results," said schools spokeswoman Rebecca Amani-Dove.
All average scores on the SAT sub-tests — critical reading, math and writing, each worth 800 points — declined in Howard County as well. In reading, the score dropped from 542 last year to 537. In math, the score dropped from 561 to 557, and in writing, from 544 to 538.
More Howard students took the SAT, compared to their counterparts in the state and country. Nationwide, 52 percent of graduates took the SAT, while in Maryland, 70 percent did. In the county, 80.6 percent of graduates took the SAT, compared to 81.6 percent of last year's graduates.
Howard's scores still are higher than the state and national average: 165 points higher than the Maryland average scores and 134 points higher than the national average.
"Howard County is a high-performing school district and this is reflected in our SAT scores," Amani-Dove said. "When we are looking at the SAT results, our goal is to make sure that all students have an opportunity to take the SAT and are prepared to perform well on the SAT so that when they leave us, whether they're going into a career or college, they have an SAT score that would enable them to enter college — this year or in the future — without having to take remediation."
At Howard Community College, Amani-Dove said, students who did not score at least 1,650 on the SAT are required to take a placement test into remedial courses; the benchmark set by the College Board for college- and career-readiness is 1,550.
"We know that there's work to do," Amani-Dove said. "Many of our students score above 1,650, but there are those that score below, so we know that there's still a lot of work ahead. ... We don't want to have kids have to be placed in remediation for education that should happen in high school. We want them to get it while they're here."
In a news release, Superintendent Renee Foose said the SAT is one of several factors that "opens doors for students after they leave high school.
"Our 2012 results indicate that many of our students are, in fact, college- or career-ready," Foose said. "Our goal is to ensure that, not just most, but all HCPSS graduates leave high school prepared."