Georgia SAT scores rise as national scores falter a bit

From DOE:

The SAT scores of Georgia’s 2012 senior class increased seven points as the nation’s scores decreased two points, according to the College Board’s 2012 SAT report.

Increases were seen even as the rate of students taking the test increased by one percentage point to 81 percent, compared to the national average test-taking rate of only 31 percent. Georgia has the seventh highest participation rate in the nation. States with higher participation rates typically see lower average scores on the SAT and often see dips when the number of students taking the exam increases.

This year Georgia also saw the largest and most diverse group of graduating seniors in state history. Of the state’s 2012 college-bound seniors who took the SAT, 47 percent were minority students, up from 46 percent in 2011 and 39 percent in 2007.

Georgia’s students scored 1,452 on the SAT, a seven point increase from 2011. The national average was 1,498, a two point decrease from 2011.

“I’m extremely pleased that SAT scores increased so much this year,” said State School Superintendent Dr. John Barge. “We jumped ahead of several states in our overall score, even as we saw our participation rate continue to increase.”

Closing the Achievement Gap

Minority students in Georgia’s schools continue to outperform their peers across the country on the SAT. The 2012 SAT report shows that African-American and Hispanic students in Georgia are outperforming those subgroups nationally.

Georgia’s African-American students outscored their counterparts nationwide on two of the three SAT subsections. Mean critical reading scores for Georgia’s African-American students are three points higher and mean writing scores are two points higher than that of African-American students nationwide.

Hispanic students in Georgia’s schools outperformed their counterparts nationwide on all three of the SAT subsections. Mean critical reading scores for Georgia’s Hispanic students are 22 points higher, mean mathematics scores are 11 points higher, and mean writing scores are 14 points higher than Hispanic students nationwide.

The difference between the scores of African-American and white students – called “the achievement gap” – is 270 points in Georgia, which is 35 points smaller than the achievement gap nationwide of 305. The gap between the scores of Hispanic and white students in Georgia is 148 points, 78 points lower than the nation (226).

Higher Participation Equals Lower Mean Scores

It is common for states that have high participation to have lower mean scores compared to states that have a very low participation rate. Media and others often rank states, districts and schools on the basis of SAT scores despite repeated warnings that such rankings are invalid. The SAT is a strong indicator of trends in the college-bound population, but it should never be used alone for such comparisons because demographics and other non-school factors can have a significant effect on scores. If ranked, schools and states that encourage students to apply to college may be penalized because scores tend to decline with a rise in percentage of test-takers.

The Value of a Core Curriculum and Rigorous Course Work

Completing a core curriculum and pursuing rigorous course work are two critical components of college readiness, and the students who do so tend to perform better on the SAT. Georgia students who completed a core curriculum — defined as four or more years of English, three or more years of mathematics, three or more years of natural science and three or more years of social science and history — did better on the SAT than those who did not complete those classes.

All 2012 Georgia SAT Takers

Critical Reading Mathematics Writing

Core Curriculum 499 500 485

Non-Core Curriculum 459 459 447

Difference +40 +41 +38

Georgia’s commitment to rigorous standards with the new Common Core Georgia Performance Standards builds on the success that has been achieved using other rigorous curricula, such as the Advanced Placement (AP) Program. Studies continue to show that students who score at least a 3 on an AP Exam in high school experience greater academic success in college and graduate from college at higher rates than their comparable, non-AP peers.

Top 10 Institutions Receiving Scores from Georgia SAT Takers











College Plans of Georgia’s SAT Takers

Among the SAT takers in Georgia’s class of 2012 who responded to optional questions about their college plans:

- 32 percent of students indicated plans to attain a bachelor’s degree

- 52 percent indicated plans to attain a more advanced (master’s or doctoral) degree

- 77 percent indicated that they planned to apply for financial aid

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

19 comments Add your comment

Jerry Eads

September 24th, 2012
1:45 pm

The measurement geek/statistician can’t fault this. If the participation rate went up including for minorities, then up is up. 7 points is a BIG jump, however; I’d be looking for some sort of changes in addition to instruction – perhaps motivation. When I proctored the tests, there would invariably be students who would essentially sleep through much of the time.

DO remember that the purpose of the SAT is to predict first year college success. It does not now nor has it ever served as a valid indicator of quality of high school preparation.

In any case, caveats aside, BRAVO TEACHERS.

Ole Guy

September 24th, 2012
1:47 pm

Perhaps I’m missing something here…have these scores (for whatever they’re worth) risen to a level which comes somewhat closer to the rest of the Nation, while those of the rest of the Nation seem to be falling to a level which is now a little closer to the ga scores? Once again (as in the political arguements we see in the current…and past…races), these “findings” serve as nothing but pure distractions from the important issues. I don’t give a hoot in hell if the kid aces all these college entrance exams. I care about RESULTS…is anyone, within the DOE circus going to take the initiative to track in-coming classes and graduating classes? THAT is the ONLY thing I care about…not because I’m an ogre, but because, quite frankly, that’s the ONLY thing which counts. When was the last time someone’s resume included “high scores” on the SAT? The only credential which means anything at all is GRADUATE.


September 24th, 2012
2:15 pm

“When was the last time someone’s resume included ‘high scores’ on the SAT?”

Many, if not most, financial services, consulting, and technology companies require you to submit your official SAT scores when applying for a job. Times have changed; everyone’s a number these days.

bootney farnsworth

September 24th, 2012
2:23 pm

does this mean we’re getting smarter, or the nation is getting dumber


September 24th, 2012
2:33 pm

we have a smaller gap than the rest of the US between average performance of white and minority students…pretty much due to worse performance by whites. Bummer that we aren’t closing the gap by raising the performance of minorities…but sadly seems like the priority is to close the gap no matter how it’s done.

HoneyFern School

September 24th, 2012
2:34 pm

This comes at the same time as the article in the Huffington Post points out an overall drop in SAT scores and a college readiness level of 43% across the nation.

Smoke and mirrors. Each section has a potential 800 points, and we are thrilled at scores of 500 or lower? Straight percentage-wise (I know, not the way it is done), students got 63% of the questions correct.

Aim high.

Atlanta Mom

September 24th, 2012
3:05 pm

What I find most interesting about the results are the math scores. Is this not the class that had Math I,II and III ? It appears they were not hurt by this experiance.

Atlanta Mom

September 24th, 2012
3:06 pm

oops, experience


September 24th, 2012
4:34 pm

“Many, if not most, financial services, consulting, and technology companies require you to submit your official SAT scores when applying for a job.”

Having worked for many of the big consulting and technology companies and then served as a recruiter for many more – I have never once seen any of the leading, largest consulting companies request SAT scores.


September 24th, 2012
5:12 pm

@ Bubba

McKinsey, Bain, and BCG all do, as well as Goldman, JPMorgan, D.E. Shaw, Bridgewater, Citadel, Blackstone, Google, Facebook, etc.

Pride and Joy

September 24th, 2012
7:14 pm

This headline is the epitome of spin — and not in a good way.
Here are the facts — GA’s average SAT score improved and is now at 1452. THe aveage national SAT score decreased and is now at 1498.
So what is the headline? Yea! Cheers for GA — GA increases while national average decreases….it sounds like GA is doing well. That’s not the story.
The headline should read GA STILL FAR BEHIND nation in average SAT scores. FORTY six points behind! This is a disgrace, not a triumph.


September 24th, 2012
10:33 pm

The only time I’ve ever been asked for my test scores was either A) applying for school or B) allowing me to exempt PRAXIS I for certification purposes.

HR Professional

September 25th, 2012
9:23 am

Georgia’s SAT scores are still abysmal. Sorry to burst the spin bubble. We really need to focus on college readiness for those students that are truly college bound. Everybody does not need to take the SAT. Unfortunately those that take it, but don’t need to make Georgia appear worse than it actually is. There are plenty of ways to make a great living w/o a college degree.

And I have been in the HR/Recruiting profession for over 15 years for many high tech and consulting companies and I can only think of 1 organization in the metro area that requests SAT scores.

APS Parent

September 25th, 2012
9:43 am

Come on, folks, this is good news. It does not mean that Georgia is anywhere close to where we need to be, but it does indicate some small progress. The only “spinning” going on here is by the commenters who realize that this information does not fit perfectly into their “gloom-and-doom” narrative about the state of public education — and how much better everything was back when we were in school.

Maureen Downey

September 25th, 2012
9:49 am

@APS, I have talked to several ed types and they, too, agree that this is good news for Georgia. I am not sure why folks who demand that public schools do better complain when they do. I also will direct readers to our resident testing expert’s comments on this. Jerry is a straight-shooter and debunker so we ought to be reassured when he notes that the rise in SAT scores — at the same time that we have a rise in test-takers– represents success and that such improvements are credible and meaningful.

Ole Guy

September 25th, 2012
3:07 pm

You may be right, APS Parent…too much, as you have so eloquently stated, is just so much gloom an’doom. Rather than demand top performance from the education community…and be thrilled to see results somewhere near the top…we should merely go on celebrating mediocrity. When kids are able to take a rest room break without getting their feet wet, we should mark the event with celebratory fanfare rivaling that of early space missions when mankind was able to realize truly remarkable achievements; when education actually meant something more…far far more than simply keeping the crayon marks inside the line. Parent, we’re not talking about tiny children, eyes wide open at the marvels of the world, these are “almost-adults”; DAMN-NEAR almost; we should be expecting…no, make that DEMANDING achievements far greater than merely (ostensibly) attaining lofty goals which, in reality, represent that which should have been attained long ago. If these achievements are truly deserving of “big new”, than let’s hold off on tossing babies into the air until we see some hard evidence that…GOOD GOLY MISS MOLY…these kids are finally starting to get it. I keep suggesting that someone, perhaps Maureen, do some investigative reporting on the true success of these “almost-adults”. When the Universities and Colleges can report graduating classes of 22-23 year olds who had the guts to stick with the program and all the travails of an undergraduate’s life, THEN, and only THEN will we know that the public education system is worth a damn.

Thus far, we have discussed (more like whined and complained) over the minitua of education; the details ranging from academics to behavioral issues; from algebra to zoology, as it were. I keep going back to the simple approach…STANDARDS. Set them; enforce them, and accept nothing short of them. And, for cryin’out loud, stop celebrating mediocrity. These kids will rise to new heights IF, and oly IF you’ve got the guts to demand it.

Ole Guy

September 25th, 2012
3:11 pm

Make that…”…big news”…

[...] DeKalb’s jump in scores outpaces the state’s increase. [...]


September 26th, 2012
2:48 pm

Let’s see the scores broken down by schools, and accompanying ACT scores.