New York City

SAT, AP test scores up for NYC students

More black students taking AP exams

October 14, 2015 By Mary Frost Brooklyn Daily Eagle
SAT and AP test scores were up this year for New York City public high school students, Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña said on Wednesday. Shown above: Fariña visits a high school class. Photo courtesy of the NYC Department of Education
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More New York City public high school students took the SAT exams and scored higher on them during the 2014-2015 school year compared to the previous year, New York City Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña announced on Wednesday.

City kids are bucking a nationwide trend. Overall, SAT scores have been falling a bit every year since 2010, according to the College Board, which administers the tests.

While still scoring lower than the national averages, the average SAT math score for NYC seniors increased by three points, from 463 to 466, while the average critical reading score increased four points from 440 to 444. The average writing score increased three points from 436 to 439. (The maximum number of points a student can score per section is 800. The lowest is 200.)

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In public high schools nationwide, average scores on all three components of the SAT fell two or three points per section.

In the rest of New York state, average public school SAT scores fell two points in math, and one point in writing. Scores stayed flat on the critical reading portion of the exam.

The number of NYC students taking and passing Advanced Placement (AP) exams also increased.

Eight percent more students citywide took one or more AP exams, and 5.9 percent more students passed them. Strikingly, this figure includes a 16 percent jump in the number of black students taking the tests.

The gains reflect the de Blasio administration’s ongoing commitment to increasing college access and planning opportunities for all students, Fariña said in a statement.

“I’m very encouraged to see more New York City students taking these exams and meeting the high bar that they set. I look forward to building on these gains as we work to make college access and success a reality for all our students,” Fariña said. 

“I welcome the news that our city’s students are participating in greater numbers in taking the SAT and Advanced Placement exams, and I applaud the improved results we are seeing,” Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams said in a statement. “Every student, regardless of where they begin, needs to finish their high school education prepared for college and career opportunities, and I look forward to furthering that mission in Brooklyn.”

Asian and white students still outscore black and Hispanic students in the tests, the figures show. Asian students excell in math in particular, while white students score higher in critical reading and writing.

But SAT scores increased in every section across all ethnic groups.

A breakdown of test results by borough and individual school is not yet available, a DOE spokesperson told the Brooklyn Eagle.

The number of city seniors taking the SAT increased from 47,950 students to a record 48,678 students, DOE said.


Still more to go

The SAT results are good news for the city, but still fall short of the scores said to indicate college readiness. A 2013 benchmark study conducted by the NYS Department of Education set a cutoff of 540 in math, 560 in critical reading and 530 in writing as indicators of a student’s ability to handle college-level coursework. 

While reliance on the SAT exams has decreased slightly over the past several years, they are still required as part of the application process by the majority of colleges and are considered an important indicator of college-readiness. Colleges also accept the ACT test for admission.

Elite colleges in particular consider the number of AP courses taken and AP test scores when considering a student for admission. AP scores are also used to obtain college credits after admission.


Future college prep programs planned

Brooklyn Councilmember Inez Barron (Brownsville, Canarsie, East Flatbush, East New York) said in a statement that she was pleased to know that city students showed increases, and agreed that assessments are important for evaluating performance and understanding of subject matter.

She added, however, that it was fortunate that colleges and universities are “increasingly looking to other indicators.”

“This is especially beneficial to African-American and Latino students who have not had the resources to benefit from prep courses for exams such as SAT,” she said.

The city is working to change that. Through College Access for All, part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s package of school system reforms, every student would have access to college prep tools, such as campus visits, application help, college-age mentors and financial counseling. College Access for All is expected to be included in the budget for middle school students in 2018, and high school students in 2019.

DOE’s AP Expansion program has brought new AP courses to more than 70 schools since 2013, de Blasio said in September. However, more than 100 schools still lack AP courses, and low-income and minority students have traditionally taken fewer AP courses than other students.

The city says that through AP for All, every high school student would have access to a range of Advanced Placement courses. The first new AP courses could be added as soon as fall 2016.

The city also continues to offer the PSAT – which high school sophomores and juniors took on Wednesday — free of charge.

Barron said these initiatives will increase awareness of higher education opportunities and remove barriers that have denied many students access to college.


DOE’s full report can be found here

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