NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Test Detects Slight Improvement In Seniors' Math Skills

August 30, 2000

College-bound high school seniors performed slightly better in the math section of the Scholastic Assessment Test this year than they did last year. But they showed no improvement, on average, in the verbal category. College Board President Gaston Caperton saw "cause for cautious optimism" in the results.

Each section of the SAT is scored on a scale of 200 to 800 -- with 500 as the set average.

  • The average SAT math score this year was 514 -- up three points from 1999.
  • The average score on the test's verbal section held steady at 505 for the fifth year in a row.
  • North Dakota students turned in the highest average math score in the nation at 609, while Iowa students excelled on the verbal portion with an average score of 589.
  • South Carolina came in last in the nation in both verbal and math scores, which were 484 and 482, respectively.

Nationally, average scores for the approximately 5,700 home-schooled students who took the test were 568 on the verbal and 532 in math.

On this year's test, black students lagged behind whites by 94 points in verbal scores and 104 points in math.

Explaining why he was encouraged by the stagnant verbal results, Caperton pointed out that more of today's students than ever before "have English as their second language or have parents who aren't native English speakers."

Source: Andrea Billups, "'Cautious Optimism' on Nation's SAT Scores," Washington Times, August 30, 2000.


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