Florida’s SAT scores are inching upward — and more minority students are taking the exam — but the state continues to lag behind national averages, according to Class of 2012 results released on Monday.
Florida’s average scores in the reading, mathematics and writing portions of the SAT were 492, 492, and 476, respectively. The national averages for those three categories are 496, 514, and 488.
Compared to last year, Florida’s average reading SAT score is up five points, the average math score is up three points, and the average writing score is up five points.
Nationally, SAT scores are slightly down this year, with both reading and writing average scores falling by one point each, while math scores held steady.
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Florida education officials, in reacting to the results, focused on the positive — specifically, that Florida’s scores are rising, and that Florida’s Hispanic students are outperforming their counterparts nationally.
“I am pleased that our students are improving their SAT performance,” Florida Education Commissioner Pam Stewart said in a statement. “The data released today are proof that their hard work is preparing them for the next step in education and life.”
Slightly more than half of Florida’s SAT test-takers are minority, the highest percentage in Florida’s history, according to The College Board, which administers the SAT.
While Florida Hispanic students beat national averages in all three portions of the test, Florida’s black students did so in only one portion, reading, and trail the national average for black students in both math and writing.
Miami-Dade’s student scores are lower than the overall state averages, though officials stressed that the numbers are improving. The average scores in 2012 increased by 5 points from last year in both reading and writing, to 472 and 457. Average math scores in Dade increased by 3 points to 469.
"Our diverse student body fared very well,” Miami-Dade Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said in a statement. “This progress reflects the dedication of our teaching staff and the hard work of our students."
Broward school district officials said Monday they had yet to receive the district’s SAT numbers.
Both Florida and Miami-Dade raised their scores while simultaneously increasing the percentage of high school seniors who have taken the test — no easy feat, since a broader pool of test-takers can often lead to a drop in scores. About 66 percent of graduating Florida seniors took the SAT, up from 64 percent a year earlier and 57 percent in 2008.
Florida’s growing participation rate is not the only obstacle to increasing future SAT scores. The state also has a higher-than-average percentage of students whose native language is not English, and a lower-than-average percentage of students whose parents have earned a bachelor’s degree.
Wayne Camara, The College Board’s vice president of research, said a key step for Florida to boost its scores will be increasing the percentage of students who take rigorous classes — both in high school and in earlier grades. Advanced courses have a direct link to higher SAT scores, Camara said, and Florida is lacking in that regard. For example, 18 percent of Florida students have taken calculus; nationally, 26 percent of students have taken it.