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SAT tests bump up in Lee; still trail

By Staff | Sep 6, 2008

The Florida Department of Education released statewide scores for the SAT and ACT, two college prep tests that some believe more accurately pinpoint a graduate’s academic readiness than the FCAT or other educational assessment test.

College-bound students are required by a large majority of colleges and universities to take the SAT and ACT then submit their scores with a grade point average and list of extracurricular activities. Both are voluntary but more students take the SAT than the ACT.

In Lee County 2,131 students took the SAT, according to the Florida Department of Education, but scores were lower than other counties across the state. Lee students scored 488 on reading, 486 on math and 470 on writing.

While 2,131 students took the test in Lee County, the department of education reported that 4,784 students took the SAT’s practice test in 2007.

On Friday the Lee County School District officials stated that the average SAT reading score increased by one point and the math score increased by two points. Writing scores in Lee County increased by five points.

“We have made a commitment to target improving SAT scores as well as encouraging more eligible students to take the test,” said Dr. James Browder, superintendent of schools. “We know we have work to do, and we’re committed to doing whatever it takes to help all students succeed.”

Seminole County — whose population of 2,846 SAT test takers mirrored Lee County’s amount — scored 514 on reading, 525 on math and 492 on writing. Overall, Seminole scored higher than Lee. It enrolls 65,226 students and has a graduation rate of 86 percent while Lee County enrolls 78,357 with a graduation rate of 76 percent.

Scores for the ACT show that more Lee County students are taking the test. This year 1,958 students took the test, an increase of 400 from last year. The composite score, which is a combination of english, math and reading was 19.3 in Lee County while across the state it was 19.8.

The population of students trying to get into college has been increasing over the last decade forcing schools to increase their admissions standards and turning tests like the ACT or SAT into more highly competitive exams.

A number of factors figure into SAT scores including race, gender and family income. The Florida Department of Education conducted a study of students choosing to take the SAT and discovered a number of trends.

Results were higher for those students who came from a family with a higher income, but these same students also scored greater on average if their parents received a higher level of education, the study said.

Further, more women take the SAT than men, although the study found a gender gap in SAT math scores. The average reading scores for females jumped from 495 to 496 this year, while male scores stayed the same at 497.

Over the last 30 years more minority students are taking the SAT. The amount of African American students who took the test increased from nine to 15 percent and Hispanic students increased from four to 24 percent.

Statewide the average math score was 497 and the average reading score 496, which is below the national average. Across the United States the average scores are 515 for math and 502 for reading, meaning that Lee County is below the state and national average.