Students score above national SAT average

Posted: Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Kenai Peninsula high-schoolers scored above the state and national averages last year when taking the SAT tests.

Both the SAT and ACT tests are voluntary exams used for college admissions and scholarship applications. The SAT includes two parts verbal and math administered in a multiple-choice format.

Each portion of the test is worth a maximum of 800 points, making a combined possible score of 1600.

Last year, Kenai Peninsula high-schoolers averaged 523 on the verbal portion of the test, up slightly from the 2003 average of 521, and 518 on the math section, up from 516 in 2003.

Glenn Haupt, the district's director of secondary education curriculum and assessment, said the district averages vary from year to year but are fairly consistent in the long run.

In 2002, the verbal average was 526; it was 515 in 2001 and 529 in 2000. On the math portion, KPBSD students averaged 528 in 2002, 507 in 2001 and 518 in 2000.

Last year's district average hovered above the state averages, which were 518 on the verbal section and 514 on math. The national averages for 2004 were 508 for verbal and 518 for math.

Haupt said the numbers provide a snapshot of how Kenai Peninsula students are fairing compared to their peers in Alaska and the nation as a whole. However, he said, the scores must be considered in context: The SAT is a voluntary test usually taken by students who plan to attend college.

"We look at the overall student average and how our kids do to give us a benchmark," he said. "But we don't know which kids are taking the test or what their motives are."

SAT data also may give some indication of which students in the district plan to attend college.

The SAT is generally taken by students in their junior and senior years of high school. While there were about 820 juniors in the district last year and 776 seniors, only 294 Kenai Peninsula Borough School District students took the test.

Nationwide, there have been concerns about the achievement gap between white and minority students on the test. This year, minority students made the biggest gains in improving SAT scores, though they still tested below the average for Caucasian students.

In the Kenai Peninsula, scores weren't available last week for separate minority groups. However, the number of test-takers was broken down by ethnic identity.

Nationally, about 37 percent of the students who took the SAT in 2004 identified themselves as minorities.

On the Kenai Peninsula, 204 or the 249 test-takers identified themselves as Caucasian, while 48 chose not to complete the ethnicity question. About 49 students 14 percent of SAT-takers claimed minority status, including Native Alaskan or Indian, Asian-Pacific Islander, African American and Hispanic.

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