The College Board released SAT scores for the class of 2016 this week, and Miami-Dade seniors have continued to improve, even as average scores for Florida and the nation as a whole dropped.
Average SAT scores for graduating seniors at public schools in Miami-Dade were up in reading, math and writing, the three subject areas tested, compared to previous years. Students saw the largest gains in reading, with scores up 16 percentage points compared to 2015.
Meanwhile, average SAT scores dropped slightly in Florida and nationwide, falling between 1 and 6 percentage points in the three subject areas compared to last year.
The Miami-Dade school district attributed its students’ gains to an emphasis on Advanced Placement classes and magnet programs in county schools, as well as to teachers and guidance counselors helping students prepare for the college entrance exam. The district said Miami-Dade also encourages students to apply for a fee waiver from the College Board if they are unable to pay for the test, in order to make sure as many students as possible can take the SAT. The College Board charges students between $45 and $57 to register for the SAT, depending on whether they do the essay component.
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“The SAT, even in a stronger way than the ACT, is a terrific predictor of college readiness and college success, so we pay close attention to our district’s performance on the SAT,” Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said at a press conference announcing the results.
Although scores are on the rise in Miami-Dade, average scores were still below the rest of the country, especially in math, an area in which Miami-Dade students scored 39 points below the national average. Miami-Dade seniors did better than the Florida average in reading, scoring two points higher on the critical reading section, but also scored below the state average in math.
Carvalho acknowledged the challenges the school district faces, but said he was pleasantly surprised by how well students scored in reading, considering the number of children in Miami-Dade who are learning English as a second language.
“We’re not only a very large school system, we’re also a very poor school system with over 70,000 English-language learners, so you would expect reading scores, critical reading, to be somewhat lower than the rest of the country’s,” Carvalho said.
Florida International University president Mark Rosenberg said Miami-Dade students are well-regarded in the college admissions process:
“Here’s what we know at FIU, in the state university system, and in higher education throughout this country: that Miami-Dade public schools, the professional staff, the teachers, the students, the board, is laser-focused on student achievement, is laser-focused on college readiness.”