Arizona students scored higher than the national average on the Scholastic Aptitude Test in 2013, with all students’ showing gains in reading, math and writing scores.
Nationally, a record number of minorities took the SAT in 2013, Hispanic and Black students’ scores increased slightly, but overall student scores remained flat, according to the 2013 SAT Report on College & Career Readiness by the College Board.
“I’m pleased to see the transition we’re going through in the state and nation with Hispanic students’ scores going up,” said Eva Carillo Dong, president of the Arizona Hispanic/Native American Indian Caucus. “We’re not seeing Native American students’ scores come up as much (nationally) and that concerns me.”
In Arizona, 2013 average SAT scores among high school seniors increased from one to ten points from last year, with Asian students ranked highest in math and writing, and White students in reading. Arizona’s Native American students scored lowest in writing, Black students in math, and Black and Latino students in reading.
Students in rural areas don’t have the same access to classroom technology as students in urban and suburban areas, and that could be a factor, said Dong.
“Technology has leveled the playing field for some, but not all districts in Arizona,” Dong said.
As increasing numbers of minority students take college entrance exams, more are becoming first-generation university students, Dong said.
“It’s given more of our kids hope,” Dong said. “Before taking the tests, they didn’t think they were going to college, but it shows them they can.”
Nationally, about 43 percent of SAT test takers scored well enough to be considered prepared for college-level work, according to the College Board.
To increase that percentage, College Board plans to expand access to Advanced Placement classes, send more customized college information packets to high-achieving minority students, expand test fee waivers, and increase school day testing.
Students in Arizona’s urban areas are more likely to meet state university eligibility requirements, yet only half of high school graduates from Pima and Maricopa County do, according to the Arizona Minority Student Progress Report: 2013 Arizona in Transformation by the Arizona Minority Education Policy Analysis Center.
“Moving forward, I know with the implementation of Arizona’s College and Career Ready Standards and the new assessment there will be a big difference,” Maricopa Community Colleges Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Maria Harper-Marinick said. “All the change going on is benefitting students. We may not see that impact right away. It may be two or three years, but there will be a difference.”
While Maricopa Community Colleges do not use SAT or ACT scores for admission, students take placement assessments in math, English and reading to determine their readiness for college-level work, Harper-Marinick said.
“We have more recent high school graduates ready for college-level work than before,” Harper-Marinick said. “When we give them assessments, fewer students need remediation. There’s a lot of good work going on in K-12.”
Nationally, more Latino students are enrolling in college and metrics that track their success show improvements in graduation rates, while enrollments for Native American and Black students have remained stable, Harper-Marinick said.