ATLANTA — Georgia high school students fared worse on the SAT college-entrance exam for the fifth year in a row, according to a report released Wednesday.
The state's average score on the test was 1445, an eight-point drop from last year. The state also lags behind the national average score of 1500, which dropped six points from the year before.
The number of test-takers increased to 72,510, up from 66,000 in 2010. Typically, states with larger pools of test-takers have lower scores, particularly in states like Georgia with large minority populations that historically do not perform as well on the exam as their white classmates.
This year, the scoring gap between Georgia's black and white students was 272, down from 279 last year.
In math, Georgia students scored 487, a three-point drop from 2010. The critical reading score was 485, down three points from last year. The state's mean writing score was 473, down two points.
According to a statement released Wednesday by the Georgia Department of Education, this year's crop of test-takers was the largest and most diverse group of seniors to take the test in Georgia history. The SAT participation rate for the class of 2011 was 80 percent, up six percent from last year — making Georgia fifth in the nation in the percentage of high school seniors taking the SAT.
The number of minority students in Georgia taking the test also rose one point to 46 percent in 2011. State Superintendent John Barge noted Georgia has very high minority participation on the SAT and the achievement gap affects overall SAT scores more than most other states.
"The good news for Georgia is that our achievement gap is much smaller than the nation's," Barge said. "The bad news is that we still have an achievement gap that must be closed."
Nationally, scores on the critical reading portion of the SAT college entrance exam fell three points to their lowest level on record last year, and combined reading and math scores reached their lowest point since 1995. The College Board said the results reflect the record number of students from the high school class of 2011 who took the exam and the growing diversity of the test-taking pool — particularly Hispanics.
The SAT is developed, administered and scored by the College Board. The SAT is designed to test the subject matter learned by students in high school and the critical thinking skills necessary to succeed in college. The test has three sections — critical reading, mathematics and writing — each worth 800 points, for a highest possible score of 2,400.