Howard sees increase in SAT participation, test scores
By By Blair Ames and Baltimore Sun Media Group
Oct 08, 2014 | 3:33 PM
Although more Maryland students took the SAT in 2014 and average test scores declined statewide, Howard County saw an increase in the average test score along with an increase in the number of students taking the assessment measuring college preparedness.
Nearly 84 percent of Howard County's class of 2014 took the SAT, up from the typical average of 80 percent in previous years.
The mean SAT score for Howard County students was 1657, higher than both the state average of 1438 and national average of 1471, according to a school system news release.
Last year's average SAT score was 1653 for Howard students.
"The scores that we received are a result of a career in education that students have spent with us and the work that teachers do to prepare these students," Superintendent Renee Foose said.
The College Board, a non-profit college advocacy organization, released nationwide data Tuesday on ACT scores, SAT scores and Advanced Placement course offerings.
In Howard County, Foose said the school system views the SAT as a PreK through 12th grade initiative and one indicator of a student's preparedness for college or the workforce after high school.
She was not surprised by the scores this year and in fact, expects them to continue to rise.
"We're working deliberately to prepare our students for college and highway to work readiness," she said.
With participation statewide increasing, Foose attributed the increase in Howard County to students realizing the value in the SAT.
"It's a voluntary assessment, so we make no deliberate attempt to push students to take the assessment, but what we are doing is making sure that the students that sit before that assessment are actually prepared to be where they are," Foose said.
Participation in the SAT statewide increased 3.2 percent to 49,665 students in 2014, according to an Maryland Department of Education news release.
The average test score African American students in Howard County increased 27 points from 2013 to 1441 and scores for students receiving free and reduced-price meals increased by 23 points from last year to 1403.
Although test scores for these two groups increased, they both fall below the College Board's benchmark of 1550, which is associated with a student's likelihood to receive a B- GPA or higher in their first year, according to a College Board report.
Among the SAT subtests, the HCPSS average score was 549 for Reading, 565 for Mathematics and 544 for Writing.
65 percent of Howard County SAT takers met or exceeded the College Board benchmark, while 41 percent of statewide test takers met that benchmark.
Among public school students, specificall, 37.8 percent of test takers met the 1550 benchmark, according to the College Board.
Foose added that 35 percent of Howard students met the 1650 benchmark set by the school system as its college readiness indicator — also the score that dictates whether a student would need to take a remedial class placement exam when enrolling at a community college.
"We're seeing participation go up as well as moving the mean, that's a testament to the work that our teachers are doing and how our students are taking this very serious and giving it their complete effort to do well," she said.