SAT scores for the high school class of 2002 were even with last year's graduates, as a two-point increase in math proficiency was offset by a two-point decrease on the language portion of the college entrance test.
Figures released Tuesday by the College Board, the New York-based nonprofit which owns the SAT, reflect a cumulative score of 1,020 -- identical to the average achieved by the class of 2001.
Test-takers averaged 504 on the verbal segment of the test and 516 on the math section.
Gaston Caperton, the College Board president, noted math scores have increased by 15 points over the past 10 years, and attributed the gain to a renewed emphasis on mathematics in the nation's high schools. The College Board said 45 percent of this year's high school seniors took precalculus, compared to 12 percent in 1992.
But Jeanne Allen, president of the Center for Education Reform, a Washington-based advocacy group, called the math results unimpressive. "The SAT has been restructured now so many times that even modest improvement in math scores, for example, doesn't mean much," she said.
On the verbal side, scores have increased just four points in the last 10 years, and the College Board announced in June that it will add an essay to the test in March 2005.
Caperton said he hoped the writing exam -- included after the University of California system threatened to stop using the SAT -- would "serve as a call to educators to emphasize strong writing skills." The SAT's testing rival, the ACT, announced Monday it would offer an optional essay starting in 2004.
About 1.3 million of this year's high school graduates took the SAT, and 616 students scored the maximum 1,600 points.
Men averaged 507 for the verbal section and women 502. In math, men scored an average of 534, and women 500.
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