Arrow-right Camera


Spokane Teens Beat Average On Sat Scores Seniors Also Topped Their Numbers From Last Year

Fri., Aug. 23, 1996

Spokane students topped state and national averages on the test that can help pave the way to college.

Spokane School District 81 students taking the Scholastic Assessment Test beat the national verbal score by 20 points, with scores averaging 525. The statewide average was 519.

Local students earned an average math score of 522, compared with scores of 519 statewide and 508 nationwide.

“I was pleased with them because for the first time in recent years we’ve jumped ahead of the state average in the verbal area and math area,” said Joe Kinney, district testing and evaluation coordinator.

Spokane seniors also topped their scores from last year, an estimated 515 in verbal skills and 506 in math.

Scores from previous years were converted by Spokane school administrators because the company that creates the SAT began using a new scoring scale. Scores can range from 200 to 800.

District 81 educators are thrilled at the steadily improving scores and hope the trend continues.

“It’s very hard to say why that might be,” said Associate Superintendent Cynthia Lambarth. “We’ve worked to strengthen our math and science programs and our English programs for college-bound students.”

The increase in scores also corresponds with a drop in the percentage of Spokane seniors taking the test.

For the past decade, whenever fewer students were tested, scores increased. When more students took the test, scores dropped.

The number of seniors taking the test fell from 828 to 758 last year - or from 44 to 40 percent.

“I don’t think there’s any real reason in it,” Kinney said. “It’s just fluctuation.”

The optional test is taken largely by students interested in college, because most universities in the region require SAT scores for admission.

Sometimes parents look at SAT patterns of various high schools in hopes of picking a promising school for their teenager.

Other districts also made public their SAT results Thursday:

Mead High School students outranked District 81, with average verbal scores of 529 and average math scores of 541.

At Cheney High School, the average math score was 524 and the average verbal score was 521.

Freeman High School students scored 522 on math and 522 on verbal.

West Valley students overall scored 485 on verbal and 495 on math.

In Spokane, Lewis and Clark High School students scored highest, with mean scores of 548 on the verbal tests and 539 on math. The lowest scores came from Rogers High: 499 on verbal and 503 on math.

State schools Superintendent Judith Billings noted the state’s scores surpassed the national average. But she called for more help for lowerscoring groups.

While scores rose overall for Hispanic and Asian students, the average score dropped slightly for American-Indian and African-American students.

“What it does is tell us for some reason we’re reaching some of our kids and not reaching others,” Billings said.

For American Indians and Alaska Natives, math scores went from 487 to 471, while verbal scores fell from 491 to 484.

Math scores for black students fell from 440 to 438; verbal scores dropped from 456 to 453.

Billings said educators should design programs targeting the lowerscoring groups long before the students are old enough to take the SAT.

“If you recognize where there’s a need and apply resources, you do get good results,” she said.

Washington boys did better than girls in math, while girls did better on verbal scores.

Overall, Billings noted, girls made more gains in the SAT this year. Their average math score was 503, up three points from last year; their average verbal score rose three points to 520.

Boys’ average math score dropped two points to 536; their verbal score dropped three points to 518.

While Washington students are scoring higher than average, future seniors should push for still higher scores, Billings said.

“I don’t know (if it’s) a comfortable lead,” she said. “Our students can do a lot better than they’re doing now.”

For the first time since 1941, the College Board changed national scoring standards to make scores easier to interpret.

The original scale was based on tests taken by about 10,000 students, many of whom attended private schools and were applying to selective private colleges and universities, Kinney said.

Now, national average scores are based on slightly over 1 million students.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Graphic: SAT scores

The following fields overflowed: BYLINE = Jeanette White Staff writer Staff writer Marny Lombard contributed to this report

Click here to comment on this story »