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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Several FCPS High Schools Make Significant Gains on 2007 SAT Scores

Several Fairfax County high schools—including South Lakes High, Mount Vernon High, Marshall High, and Stuart High—have made large, statistically significant gains on their 2007 SAT scores, according to figures released today by Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) Superintendent Jack D. Dale (See table 4).  Overall, FCPS students earned a combined average score of 1639 for the total SAT I: Reasoning Test (SAT), posting an average score of 545 on the Critical Reading section, 559 on the Mathematics section, and 535 on the Writing section. The average scores represent tests taken by FCPS seniors from the class of 2007 and include the scores of students who are not enrolled in FCPS but take the test in Fairfax County high schools.

Students at South Lakes High made the most impressive SAT gains, raising their school’s average Critical Reading score by 15 points, their school’s average Mathematics score by 12 points, and their school’s average Writing score by 19 points.  Mount Vernon High students improved their school’s average score in Critical Reading by 28 points, their school’s average Mathematics score by 9 points, and their school’s average Writing score by 15 points.  Students from Stuart High improved their school’s average Critical Reading score by 20 points, their school’s average Mathematics score by 4 points, and their school’s average Writing score by 11 points, while Marshall High students improved their school’s average Critical Reading score by 10 points, their school’s average Mathematics score by 9 points, and their school’s average Writing score by 12 points.

According to figures compiled by the College Board, which administers the SAT, FCPS students once again scored much higher on the Mathematics section than students across the nation and in Virginia, with an average score of 559, compared to 515 nationally and 511 statewide.  On the Critical Reading section of the SAT, FCPS students also scored significantly higher than students in the nation and in Virginia with an average score of 545, compared to 502 nationwide and 511 statewide.  On the Writing section—in its second year as part of the SAT—FCPS students also scored significantly higher than students in the nation and in Virginia with an average score of 535, compared to 494 nationwide and 498 statewide.  The Critical Reading and Writing average scores for FCPS in 2007 stayed the same when compared to 2006, and the Math scores showed a decrease of four points compared to 2006. 

“The majority of our high schools posted gains in at least one section of the 2007 SAT,” said Dale.  “Several of our high schools made gains in multiple sections, an impressive accomplishment. Our Asian students’ scores have risen in all three sections, and our Black students have improved their Critical Reading scores.”

Following are highlights of the SAT results for FCPS, using College Board-reported data:

  • FCPS Asian students’ scores increased from 2006 to 2007 by 7 points on the Critical Reading section, and 1 point on the Math section, as well as 4 points in Writing. (See table 1.)
  • FCPS Black students’ scores increased by 2 points on the Critical Reading section, decreased by 3 points on the Math section, and went up by 4 points in Writing.  (See table 1.)
  • FCPS Hispanic students’ scores decreased by 2 points on the Critical Reading section, remained the same in Math, and decreased by 4 points in Writing. (See table 1.)
  • FCPS White students’ scores decreased by 3 points on the Critical Reading section and 6 points on the Math section as well as 1 point in Writing. (See table 1.)
  • When compared with 2006 scores, the FCPS average Critical Reading score remained constant, the average Math score decreased 4 points, and the average score remained the same in Writing.
  • The national Critical Reading average decreased by 1 point from 2006 to 2007; the Math average decreased by 3 points and the Writing by 3 points. (See table 2.)
  • In Virginia, the average Critical Reading score decreased by 1 point, the average Math score decreased 2 points, and the average Writing score decreased by 2 points. (See table 2.)
  • FCPS students exceeded the national average in Critical Reading by 43 points, in Math by 44 points, and in Writing by 41 points. (See table 2.)
  • FCPS students exceeded the statewide average in Critical Reading by 34 points, in Math by 48 points, and in Writing by 37 points. (See table 2.)
  • Critical Reading, Writing, and Math scores for all FCPS ethnic groups exceeded all national and state averages for ethnic groups. (See table 1.)
  • FCPS Asian students’ scores exceeded national Asian students’ scores by 22 points on the Critical Reading section, by 20 points in Writing, and by 16 points on the Math section. (See table 1.)
  • FCPS Black students’ scores exceeded national Black students’ scores by 37 points on the Critical Reading section, 32 points in Writing, and 35 points on the Math section (See table 1.)
  • FCPS Hispanic students’ scores exceeded national Hispanic students’ scores by 36 points on the Critical Reading section, 31 points in Writing, and 40 points on the Math section. (See table 1.)
  • FCPS White students’ scores exceeded national White students’ scores by 38 points on the Critical Reading section, by 36 points in Writing as in 2006, and by 36 points on the Math section. (See table 1.)

Scores for South County Secondary School are reported for the first time this year, because the class of 2007 was that school’s first senior class.

Table 1 contains the SAT scores, as reported by the College Board, which uses the scores of every student who took the SATs and who identified him- or herself as a member of the graduating class of 2007 at the time of testing.

Table 2 contains the average scores, by ethnic category, as reported by the College Board.

Table 4 contains the average scores for each FCPS high school, as reported by the College Board.

ACT Scores Continue to Rise for Students in Fairfax County Public Schools
The ACT is a curriculum-based measure of college readiness.  ACT components include tests of academic achievement in English, math, reading, and science and an optional writing test.  Over the past three years, the number of FCPS students taking the ACT has increased from 1,421 to 2,144, and, throughout Virginia, the number increased from 10,806 to 14,653.  Average ACT scores have risen across all categories from 2005 to 2007, including English, Mathematics, Reading, Science, and Composite scores, in FCPS and in Virginia.  (See table 3.)

Table 3 contains the ACT scores as reported by ACT, Inc.

 

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Note: For more information, contact Kathy Oliver, director, FCPS Office of Student Testing, at 703-208-7776.

 

Attachments:

Description of the SAT and Cautions in Interpreting School Results
Table 1: SAT Average Scores for Fairfax County Public Schools, Virginia, and the Nation, 2005 through 2007, as Reported by the College Board.

Table 2: SAT Average Scores for Fairfax County Public Schools, Virginia, and the Nation by Ethnicity, 2005 through 2007, as Reported by the College Board.

Table 3:  ACT Average Scores for Fairfax County Public Schools, Virginia, and the Nation, 2005 through 2007.

Table 4:  SAT Average Scores, by high school, for Fairfax County Public Schools, 2005 through 2007, as Reported by the College Board.

Description of the SAT and  Cautions in Interpreting School Results

Description of the SAT

The SAT is a three-hour-and-45-minute test that measures critical reading, mathematical reasoning, and writing skills that students have developed over time and that they need in order to be successful in college. The new SAT is better aligned with current curriculum and institutional practices in high school and college. By including a third measure of skills—writing—the SAT reinforces the importance of writing throughout a student's education;  this writing measure will help colleges make better admissions and placement decisions. The new SAT was administered for the first time in March 2005 for the class of 2006. Results are reported in three-digit scaled scores on a 200- to 800-point scale. This report summarizes information for 2007 seniors who took the SAT at any time during their high school years through June 2007.

Cautions in Interpreting School Test Results

Readers are cautioned not to rely too heavily on test scores as measures of instructional quality and not to use test scores exclusively to compare schools, areas, or school systems. Any interpretation of SAT results should take into account the following:

  • The SAT does not attempt to assess any specific local high school curriculum or a more general “national curriculum.”
  • The multiple-choice format limits the type of questions that can be asked and the skills that can be covered. For instance, students are not asked to write a sentence or a paragraph. This test does not assess listening or oral communication skills nor does it attempt to measure such work-related attributes as responsibility, initiative, and creativity.
  • Each year’s average score for a school represents the results for a completely different group of students.
  • The average scores of students in smaller high schools will tend to vary more from year to year than the average scores of students from larger schools.
  • Average scores for schools do not give information about how many students scored at a high level or a low level. In each school, many students may score at a high level, and many others may score at a low level.
  • Since all students in a school, school system, or state do not take the SAT, and since the population of test takers is self-selected, using aggregate SAT scores to compare or evaluate teachers, schools, systems, states, or other educational units is not valid, and the College Board strongly discourages such use.

Adapted from A Profile of SAT Program Test Takers by the College Board.

 


 

TABLES 1-4