INTERVIEW: 2011 SAT score averages released

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – It is a mixed bag of results for Virginia students in the SAT exam. Graduating high schoolers scored higher than the nationwide average in reading and writing, but were below the average in math. Here to talk about what that means is our education specialist, Doctor Bill Bosher.

RYAN: Welcome back to First at 4:00.

BOSHER: Thanks, Ryan, good to be with you.

RYAN: Let's look at the reading number in particular. Actually, Virginia scores stayed about what they have normally been and the overall nationwide average has dropped a little bit. What does that tell us?

BOSHER: That's true. When they drop two or three points or they go up two or three points, it's sort of like a hot-dog-eating contest and it really doesn't matter whether it was one more but we declare ourselves a winner. Part of it is our problem because if it goes up three points, we claim victory and if it goes down three points, we say it doesn't mean much, but it can't be both ways. Really, there is no statistically significant difference in the scores. The big news is we're above the national scores and there are some troubling things when you look at public-private schools and look at this along racial lines.

RYAN: What does that tell us, the differences in public school students and private school students and along racial lines?

BOSHER: About 90% of the seniors who are reported in this are public school students, but if you look at the independent schools and faith-based schools they score higher than the public school students. Then there's the group that's simply marked 'other' and that's the group that's home schoolers and they're significantly lower. When you look at the racial issues, the Pan-Asians higher than whites, but significantly lower than whites and Pan-Asians are black students and Hispanic students.

RYAN: And how does the state go about addressing the fact that there are clearly groups being left behind? Obviously in a 90% pool, you're talking about a much larger group of student, than you are in a 10% pool, but are there things the state can do and individual districts can do to help the raise these scores of these particular at risk groups?

BOSHER: Ryan, they certainly can and many are doing that. Let's go back to the private schools and the faith-based schools. Many of those schools actually teach the S.A.T. starting at the sophomore year. You rarely find that in the public school. Also some of the racial issues follow socioeconomics which tend to be more compelling. What you're finding with all these scores, and I think this is actually a victory that they aren't lower, but there are far more students taking them, so if you increase the number taking it and you increase the number of students from diverse backgrounds taking it, and you don't have a significant reduction, then that's actually a plus. It means that there's some intervention already taking place.

RYAN: What about the S.A.T.? Is it still a vitally important exam? Does it weigh and have the same type of weight that it does when you're applying to a college? Are colleges still looking at it the same way they did ten years ago?

BOSHER: No, it's one of the poorest indicators of success in college. The highest correlation of college success is GPA average and some schools like Wake Forest doesn't even consider the score in the admissions anymore.

RYAN: I just remember being so concerned about that S.A.T. score 20 years ago. Dr. Bosher, thank you so much for the insight.

BOSHER: Thank you, Ryan.

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