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MCPS Class of 2016’s SAT Scores Rise, Participation Falls

October 7, 2016

SAT scores for graduates of the Class of 2016 from Montgomery County Public Schools high schools increased by just two points over the previous year, while participation in the college entrance exam fell by 3.1 percentage points over the graduates of the Class of 2015.

   According to a release from MCPS, the Class of 2016 earned a combined average SAT score of 1631, a two-point increase over the previous year, and 175 and 147 points higher than the Maryland and national averages, respectively. However, while the district’s scores among African American and Hispanic graduates were significantly above the national and state averages, they remain below that of their White and Asian counterparts in MCPS.

   According to a memo from MCPS superintendent of schools, Dr. Jack R. Smith to the Board of Education, graduates nationwide and in the whole State of Maryland scored six points lower in 2016 than in 2015. And the mean SAT combined score of MCPS graduates decreased by 20 points from 2012 to 2016. “The same trend was observed for graduates statewide and nationwide, who scores declined 31 and 14 points respectively,” wrote Smith.

   The memo stated, “On average, MCPS’ Black or African America students in the Class of 2016 outperformed their peers in the state and the nation by 155 and 127 points respectively.” The year-on-year comparison of scores for African American student showed a one point decrease from 1397 in 2015 to 1396 in 2016. “The trend for Black or African American students in the state and nation differed from MCPS,” wrote Smith, “with a 12 and 7 point decline in the state and nation, respectively. In the past five years, MCPS Black or African American graduates progressively improved the mean SAT combined score by 8 points, while Maryland and national graduates’ scores exhibited a decline of 17 and 3 points, respectively.”

   When it comes to Hispanic or Latino MCPS graduates, in 2016 they scored 100 points higher than their Maryland peers, and 107 points higher than Latinos nationwide. The mean SAT combined score for MCPS Hispanic/Latino graduates in 2016 declined 15 points compared to 2015; a decrease also displayed for Hispanic/Latino graduates in the State of Maryland — those scores fell 13 points — and the nation which fell 7 points.

   According to the memo, “Further analysis of trend data reveal a decline of mean SAT combined scores for Hispanic/Latino graduates in MCPS, the State of Maryland, and the nation from 2012 to 2016.” The mean SAT combined scores for decreased 37 points Hispanic/Latino graduates in MCPS from 2012 to 2016, while the scores statewide scores for Hispanic/Latino graduates fell 96 points from 2012 to 2016. Nationwide Latino scores were just 15 points lower from 2012 to 2016.

   For the Class of 2016, the SAT participation rate was 64.7 percent. This is 14.6 percentage points higher than that for graduates in the nation (50.1 percent), but 12.0 percentage points lower than that for graduates in the state of Maryland (76.7 percent). The participation rate dropped 3.1 percentage points from 2015 to 2016 for MCPS graduates.

   “Many of our students continue to perform at a high level on this assessment, but not all,” stated Dr. Jack R. Smith, MCPS superintendent of schools. “While this is just one data point in a student’s educational career, it is a meaningful measure to help assess student readiness for college and career. We must continue to focus on closing this and other gaps in outcomes for our students so that scores are not predictable by race, ethnicity, socio-economic status or service.”

   “I am pleased to see that a large number of our students continue to perform at a high level on this test,” stated Michael Durso, president of the Montgomery County Board of Education. “Though MCPS sets the high bar for Maryland and is a leader in the nation, we must not become complacent.  There is still work to be done to ensure that all MCPS students perform at the highest levels.”

   The SAT college entrance examination includes three sections—critical reading, mathematics, and writing—each of which is worth a maximum of 800 points for a total of 2400 points. The average score for the MCPS Class of 2016 was 545 on the critical reading section (up 3 points from 2016); 551 on the mathematics portion (down 3 points); and 536 on the writing portion (up 3 points).

   Dr. Smith’s full memo to the Board of Education can be read here.

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