SATs for La., Miss. students top national average

Published 5:15 pm Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The class of 2008 in Louisiana and Mississippi earned higher scores on the SAT college entrance test than the national average in critical reading, math and writing, a report released Tuesday shows.

The College Board, which released the report, said 2,695 Louisiana students took the SAT during their high school years, through March 2008. It found an average score of 566 for critical reading, 564 for math and 558 for writing on the college entrance exam. Each section has a maximum score of 800.

In Mississippi, where 937 students took the test, the average was 574 in critical reading, 556 in math and 566 in writing. Nationally, more than 1.5 million students took the test, which the College Board calls a record, and the average score was 502 for critical reading, 515 for math and 494 for writing.

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In general, the states’ best students took the SAT. In Louisiana and Mississippi, the ACT is the more widely used college entrance exam.

Rene’ Greer, a spokeswoman for the Louisiana Department of Education, said the department is pleased that students in the state continued to do better than students nationally. However, she noted that SAT test-takers represent a small percentage of students in Louisiana and that they often want to attend colleges or universities outside the state.

A spokeswoman for the Mississippi education department did not immediately return a message.

The 34,211 Louisiana students who took the ACT scored below the national average with a composite score of 20.3 on a 36-point scale. The national composite score was 21.1. Mississippi, where 25,641 students took the ACT, had the nation’s lowest composite average, 18.9. The ACT said only 22 percent of the students in each state met national college standards in all four subjects tested: English, reading, math and science.

Students can have their scores sent to one or more schools, and nearly 54 percent of the Louisiana students taking the SAT picked Louisiana State University as an option. According to the report, scores were sent to a total of 833 schools, including Yale, Stanford and Harvard.

Gaston Caperton, the College Board’s president, said in a statement that the SAT’s outreach “into minority, low-income and other underserved student groups is yielding tremendous results. More than ever, the SAT reflects the face of education in this country.”

In Louisiana, a predominantly white state, 65 percent of SAT test-takers described themselves as white, while 15 percent were black. Twenty-eight percent of test-takers who answered said they were from families with annual incomes of $40,000 to $80,000; another 28 percent said their families earned from $80,000 to $120,000. Six percent were from families earning $20,000 a year or less.

About 1,700 said their parents had earned bachelor’s or graduate degrees.

In Mississippi, also predominantly white, 66 percent of test-takers were white and 17 percent black. Most also had parents who’d earned at least bachelor’s degrees.

More than two-thirds of test-takers in each state planned to apply for financial aid.