Archive for Wednesday, September 1, 2004

State SAT scores best in 16 years

Results up at Lawrence High School, off at Free State in 2003-‘04

September 1, 2004


Kansas students this year posted their best scores in at least 16 years for verbal and math skills on the SAT college exam.

And Lawrence High School's SAT scores rebounded after falling below state averages in 2002-2003.

"We've started holding test prep sessions," LHS principal Steve Nilhas said. "We've improved over the last year. The scores are not as good as we have had in the past, but they're looking better,"

The College Board, the agency that distributes the SATs, reported that the 102 LHS seniors who took the exam had a mean score of 584 on the verbal portion of the test and a mean score of 583 on the math portion. In 2002-2003, 82 seniors took the exam and combined for a verbal mean score of 570 and a math mean score of 575.

Math and verbal sections of the SAT are graded on a 200- to 800-point scale.

The Kansas average for verbal was 584 and the average for math was 585. The national average for 2003-2004 was a 508 for verbal and a 518 for math.

While just a hop away from hitting the Kansas average in math, Nilhas said the LHS students made great progress. He attributed the improvement to counselors and teachers better preparing the students.

The SAT scores for LHS and Free State High School have fluctuated the past six years. Free State, for example, had a dip in its scores last year compared to 2002-2003. Free State seniors had a verbal mean score of 604 and a math mean score of 601. In 2002-2003, seniors at FSHS compiled a verbal mean score of 609 and a math mean score of 601.

Free State principal Joe Snyder couldn't say why the scores went down slightly.

"I'm not sure that's even statistically significant," he said. "But the kids did a good job. I'm proud of them and the teachers."

Bishop Seabury Academy, a private school, only had one senior last year and as a result can't report SAT scores.

Christopher Carter, head of the academy, said in 2002-2003 the nine seniors had a verbal mean score of 639 and had a math mean score of 623.

In total, 219 Lawrence seniors completed the SAT, which is used to gain entrance to some colleges and scholarship opportunities. That's the largest group of students since 220 seniors took the exam in 1998-1999. Statewide, 2,698 Kansas seniors took the exam, and nationally about 1.4 million of the 2004 graduating class took the SAT.

State Education Commissioner Andy Tompkins noted that any analysis of the results should consider that only a small percentage of Kansas students take the exam. Only 2,698 students, or about 9 percent, of all graduating seniors took the exam, compared with 48 percent nationally. About 60 fewer students took the SAT in Kansas last year than took it the previous year.

Tompkins said the better indication of student achievement is the ACT exam, which was taken by 75.4 percent of Kansas graduates, who posted an average score of 21.6 on the 36-point scale exam.

White students in Kansas who took the SAT last year scored an average of 589 on the verbal section and 589 on the math, an increase of 2 points on each. Blacks saw declines in both portions, slipping 6 points on verbal to 508 and 20 points on math to 486. About 18 percent fewer blacks took the SAT last year.

Males outperformed females in math, 603 to 576, and 586 to 582 on the verbal section.

-- The Associated Press contributed to this report.

In 2003-04, 219 Lawrence students completed the SAT (117 at Lawrence Free State High School and 102 at Lawrence High). This compares to the 181 students who took the test in 2002-03. The total still is a small sampling compared to the 509 students who took the ACT exam in 2003-04.The chart below shows the verbal and math mean scores for both Lawrence high schools, the district's averages, and average mean scores for Kansas and the nation.
Year Verbal Mean Score Math Mean Score Number Tested District Average Verbal/Math KS Average Verbal/Math National Average Verbal/Math
1998-99 603 586 82 587/594 582/585 505/511
1999-00 580 579 104 567/581 578/576 505/514
2000-01 588 586 106 594/600 574/580 506/514
2001-02 627 608 84 607/597 578/580 504/516
2002-03 609 610 99 590/593 578/582 507/519
2003-04 604 601 117 594/592 584/585 508/518
1998-99 571 601 138 587/594 582/585 505/511
1999-00 553 583 78 567/581 578/576 505/514
2000-01 599 613 99 594/600 574/580 506/514
2001-02 587 586 96 607/597 578/580 504/516
2002-03 570 575 82 590/593 578/582 507/519
2003-04 584 583 102 594/592 584/585 508/518

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