Virginia public school students continue to score above the national average on the SAT college-admissions test, the Virginia Department of Education reported Monday.
The state's public school class of 2012 scored 17 points higher than the national average in reading, 11 points higher in writing and 5 points higher in math.
The average math score of 510 was up 3 points from the previous year. The reading score of 508 dropped by one point, and the average writing score of 492 was unchanged. Nationally, achievement dropped slightly in all three areas.
Meanwhile, students in the D.C. public schools are taking Advanced Placement exams more often - and are passing the rigorous tests more frequently, the school district reported, citing a new study by The College Board.
From the 2010-11 school year to the 2011-12 school year, the number of District students taking the AP exams rose nearly 15 percent. And since 2007-08, the number of students passing at least one exam has risen by 85 percent.
The number of African-American and Hispanic students passing at least one exam rose even higher in the past five years, by 86 percent and 184 percent, respectively.
In both Virginia and D.C., school officials said more rigorous classes helped lead to the gains.
“By incorporating more rigorous and challenging standards in all subjects, we are preparing our students with 21st-century skills,” said David M. Foster, president of the Virginia Board of Education. “The board takes seriously its duty to ensure that students graduating from a Virginia public school are prepared to succeed in college and the workplace.”
Sixty-eight percent of the state's 2012 public high school graduates took the SAT. Four out of every 10 public school students taking the test were members of a minority group, and students in all five ethnic groups the College Board reports outperformed their peers nationwide on all three SAT subsections.
When SAT results for private and home-schooled students were included in the overall results, Virginia ranked above the national average in just two of the three categories. The all-student average of 510 in reading was 14 points higher, and the writing score of 495 was 7 points higher. However, the average of 512 in math was 2 points lower than the national average.
In D.C., offering more AP classes meant that more students in more schools had access to the challenging curriculum, which also leveled the playing field for students, said
“Beginning with the 2010-2011 school year, we required all of our high schools to offer at least four AP courses, which has led to a 36 percent increase in the number of AP courses offered," said in a press release. "This has increased equity across DCPS, so all of our students have access to these rigorous, college-level courses."
The number of Virginia public school students who took at least one AP exam in high school increased by 5.7 percent this year, and the number of tests taken increased by 9 percent.