Howard SAT scores rebound; surpass state, national averages

After a dip last year, SAT scores rose this year for Howard County's most recent high school graduates, who again outperformed their peers across the state and country.

According to data released Thursday, Sept. 26 by the College Board, a not-for-profit educational organization, Howard County's Class of 2013 scored an average of 1,653 out of 2,400 on the SAT, up from 1,632 last year and higher than the average of 1,646 two years ago.

Howard County Superintendent Renee Foose said Sept. 30 that the county scores "were the higest in the state."

Schools' spokeswoman Rebecca Amani-Dove said school officials attributed the gains to an "increase in rigor and focus on college-readiness."

Howard County students' scores are again higher than the state and national average: 170 points greater than the average Maryland score of 1,483 and 155 points greater than the average score nationwide of 1,498.

"Competitive SAT score are an advantage in the college admissions process. They also signify that students have the aptitude to excel in a college environment," Foose said in a Wednesday, Sept. 30 news release. "We want our graduating seniors to be able to pursue the futures of their dreams, and these SAT results indicate that many are well on their way."

The school system considers a combined score of 1,650, or 550 on each of the SAT sub-tests (math, critical reading and writing) to be one indicator of college- and career- readiness. The benchmark the College Board considers to be college- and career- ready is a score of 1,550. Nationwide, 57 percent of graduating seniors who took the SAT did not meet that threshold — a number, according to the College Board, that has remained largely the same for the past five years.

"While some might see stagnant scores as no news, we ... consider it a call to action," College Board President David Coleman said in a release announcing the scores. "We must dramatically increase the number of students in K-12 who are prepared for college and careers. Only by transforming the daily work that students do can we achieve excellence and equity."

Among graduating Howard County seniors, 80.3 percent took the SAT during high school last year, down slightly from 80.6 percent in 2012. This year, 69 percent of public school graduates in the state took the SAT, as did 43 percent of graduating public school students nationwide.

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