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RICHMOND, Va. — Virginia’s 2018 public high school seniors outperformed their national peers in language arts and mathematics on the recently revamped SAT as the number of students taking the college admissions test in the state and nation increased.

Of the 54,902 Virginia 2018 public school graduates who took the SAT, 54 percent met or exceeded the SAT’s college-readiness benchmarks in both reading and writing, and mathematics.

Nationwide, 44 percent of public school SAT takers met the readiness standard on both sections of the test.

“We now have two years of performance data from the revised SAT and Virginia students continue to outperform their nationwide peers by wide margins,” Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane said. “But the data also show persistent achievement gaps and underscore the importance of equity in providing instructional supports and of expanding access to the advanced courses and academic opportunities that prepare students for success in college.”

The commonwealth’s public school graduates outscored their nationwide peers overall and on both required sections of the college-admissions test, as follows:

  • Virginia’s public school overall mean score of 1110 was 61 points higher than the overall score for 2018 public school graduates nationwide.
  • Virginia’s public school mean score of 563 on the reading and writing section was 34 points higher.
  • Virginia’s public school mean score in mathematics of 547 was 27 points higher.

The SAT is the predominant admissions test in Virginia, and is considered a key indicator of the effectiveness of schools in preparing students for the first year of college.

The average combined score for 2018 public school seniors in the commonwealth was 15 points higher than the overall average score for the class of 2017. The College Board attributed the improvement — and similar gains nationwide — to a sharp increase in the number high-performing seniors taking the new SAT as students became more familiar with the revised assessment.

2018 Virginia & National Public School Mean SAT Scores

Group Virginia

Overall

Nation

Overall

Virginia

Reading & Writing

Nation

Reading & Writing

Virginia

Math

Nation

Math

All 1110 1049 563 529 547 520
Asian 1239 1199 608 586 630 613
Black 971 935 498 478 473 457
Hispanic 1068 979 543 496 525 484
White 1152 1114 586 562 566 552

The College Board revised the SAT in 2016 to better align the test with high school content standards and academic skills identified as important to success in college. SAT participation among Virginia public school seniors subsequently dropped by three points in 2017. The College Board says that nationwide, about 125,000 disproportionately higher-achieving 2017 seniors elected to take the rival ACT in 2017 or rely on their scores on the previous version of the SAT.

SAT participation rebounded in 2018. In Virginia, 54,902, or 65 percent, of the commonwealth’s 2018 public school seniors took the SAT. This represented a 6.4 percent increase in participation compared with the class of 2017. Nationwide, SAT participation increased by 25 percent.

Local efforts to expand SAT participation also had contributed to the increase in the number of students taking the test in Virginia. Four school divisions — Alexandria, Campbell County, Fluvanna County and Richmond — conducted “SAT School Day” events during 2017-2018, allowing students to take the test free of charge during the school day. In addition, 33 other high schools held individual SAT School Day events, including schools in rural areas with historically low SAT participation levels.

The following table includes the performance of private, parochial and home-schooled students, as well as public high school seniors.

2017 Virginia & National All-Schools Mean SAT Scores

Group Virginia

Overall

Nation

Overall

Virginia

Reading & Writing

Nation

Reading & Writing

Virginia

Math

Nation

Math

All 1117 1068 567 536 550 531
Asian 1241 1223 606 588 634 635
Black 975 946 499 483 475 463
Hispanic 1074 990 546 501 528 489
White 1156 1123 589 566 568 557
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