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Higher and lower

Virginia students' SAT scores are above national average, but trail private school students

hvaldez1 (sxc.hu)

Higher and lower

Virginia's graduating high school seniors scored slightly higher than the nationwide average on the reading and writing sections of the SAT college-entrance exam but lower than their national peers in mathematics, according to a report released Wednesday. Religious and independent school students scoring substantially higher than public school students in all three categories.

The 61,398 Virginia public, private and home-schooled seniors who took the test through June 2011 had an average score of 512 in critical reading, 509 in math and 495 in writing, according to the College Board, which administers the test. Each section has a top score of 800.

Virginia's average reading scores were unchanged from last year's, but down slightly from last year's averages of 512 in math and 497 in writing.

Public high school seniors 90 percent of Virginia's test-taking pool scored an average of 509 in reading, 507 in math and 492 in writing.

Students in Virginia's religious and independent schools outperformed them by substantial margins. Students at religiously affiliated schools (6 percent of test-takers) averaged 540 in reading, 534 in math and 529 in writing. Independent-school seniors (4 percent of test-takers) scored 559 in reading, 560 in math and 555 in writing.

Test-takers from "other or unknown" schools slightly more than 2,240 students scored 488, 468, and 466.

Large gaps remain among Virginia's racial subgroups, as is the case with national test takers.

Students who described themselves as of Asian descent (9 percent of all test takers) averaged 529 in reading, 581 in math and 529 in writing. Whites (58 percent of test takers) averaged 539 in reading, 531 in math and 520 in writing. Black seniors (21 percent of test takers) averaged 434 in reading, 427 in math and 419 in writing. Those who described themselves as non-Mexican or non-Puerto Rican Hispanics (4 percent of test takers) averaged 489 in reading, 486 in math and 474 in writing.

Virginia Department of Education officials noted Wednesday that the class of 2011 "represented the largest and most diverse pool of college-bound students in the state's history" and that 40 percent of Virginia's public high school seniors who took the SAT were members of a minority group.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Les Sillars

Les is a WORLD Radio correspondent and commentator. He previously spent two decades as WORLD Magazine’s Mailbag editor. Les directs the journalism program at Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, Va.

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