The state's high SAT average score is a misleading indicator of the academic standing of Kansas high school seniors, education officials said today.
The Scholastic Aptitude Test, conducted by the College Board, provides a benchmark evaluation of seniors' verbal and math skills.
Only three states Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota had a higher SAT average score than Kansas in 1991.
John Poggio, associate dean of education at Kansas University, said SAT results are insufficient to judge the academic caliber of Kansas seniors, because the SAT isn't the dominant college admissions exam in the state.
"It is not a random sample of students. It's not a good representation of how students are doing statewide," he said.
LESS THAN 10 percent of Kansas high school seniors take the SAT, said Sharon Freden, assistant commissioner of the state Department of Education.
"It's really not a good indication how all our students are doing," Freden said.
At KU, SAT scores are not used for admission decisions. The American College Test, or ACT, is required by KU.
Martine Hammond-Paludan, director of academic affairs for the Kansas Board of Regents, said it's almost automatic for students on the East and West coasts to take the SAT if planning to attend college. In the Midwest, the test preference is the rival ACT.
At Lawrence High School, less than 150 students take the SAT each year, but more than 300 complete the ACT.
"TYPICALLY, only those going to school on the East and West coasts take it (SAT) to apply to the Ivy League schools, Stanford or Berkeley," Hammond-Paludan said.
"The key phrase is self-selection," Poggio said. "Students willing to go 1,000 miles to college on the East or West coast are self-selecting."
He said students who take the SAT are likely to be among the highest achievers in the high school classroom.
"They are more committed to higher education," he said.
In the 23 states where the SAT is the dominant college exam, only Alaska and North Carolina showed gains this year.
In states where the ACT dominates, Iowa had the highest average. However, only 5 percent of Iowa seniors take the test.
The lowest possible SAT score is 400. Each test-taker automatically receives 200 on math and 200 on verbal. The highest possible score is 1,600.
THE 1991 national average was 896 422 on the verbal section and 474 on the math section.
For Kansas as a whole, the average score was 1,039. The 1990 average was 1,040.
Poggio said the 1 point decline in Kansas was statistically insignificant. It could be the result of rounding the decimal point score off differently, he said.
The average score would have to shift 5 to 10 points to indicate a significant trend, Poggio said.
At LHS, the 1991 average score was 1,092. LHS students on average scored 520 on verbal and 572 on math.
In 1990, LHS students taking the SAT received an average score of 1,048 499 on verbal and 549 on math. The national average in 1990 was 900 424 on verbal and 476 on math.