Average SAT scores for 2010 varied widely among the ten public high schools in Harford County, with some schools easily besting the state and national averages and others lagging behind, according to results just released by Harford County Public Schools.
Testing skills that are learned in high school, the SAT is taken mainly by college-bound students and is designed to assess college readiness. It is the most widely used test in college admissions according to the College Board, which administers the test.
Harford County Public Schools provides the Preliminary SAT (PSAT) to all eleventh graders and offers SAT preparation as an elective class in all ten high schools. But only four of ten schools, Bel Air, C. Milton Wright, Fallston, and Patterson Mill, currently have enough student interest to hold the SAT prep classes, according to HCPS spokeswoman Teri Kranefeld. The same four schools also earned the highest average SAT scores in the county in 2010.
Critics of the SAT say that it is not the only predictor of college success, and the test unfairly discriminates against minority and low-income students. As a result of these concerns, some colleges no longer require the SAT for admission – Goucher College is a one local example.
SAT results in HCPS have long reflected underlying disparities in socio-economic status, as the schools with the highest percentage of students receiving free and reduced meals have tended to post the lowest average scores.
Nonetheless, the SAT remains one of the few national assessments taken by high school students who have college aspirations. By contrast, the Maryland High School Assessments (HSAs) measure student progress toward basic learning goals that all students must meet in order to earn a Maryland diploma.
Harford County Public Schools issued a press release Tuesday regarding the overall county scores. Responding to a request from The Dagger, HCPS also provided a breakdown of the results by school in the chart below. The chart includes the number of test-takers and their scores in all three sections of the SAT – critical reading, math and writing – each of which carries a maximum score of 800 points. Results from 2009 are also provided.
The following is the text of the press release from HCPS announcing the countywide SAT results, which have been previously reported here on The Dagger:
Harford County national test scores remain steady; participation up
Harford County students scored above the state and national averages on the Critical Reading and Mathematics sections of the SAT Reasoning Test, according to data released by the College Board.
Compared to 2009, Harford County test-takers’ overall performance held steady in Critical Reading (507), increased two points in Mathematics, and dropped by five points in Writing. Harford County mean scale scores exceed the state in Critical Reading (507 versus 501) and in Mathematics (523 versus 506) while remaining below the state in Writing (483 versus 495). The mean SAT Composite earned by Harford County students in 2010 was 1513 compared to the state’s average of 1502.
The number of test-takers in Harford County also increased in 2010 with 1,440 graduates participating, an increase of 90 students from the previous year. Compared to the state, Harford County experienced a higher rate of participation in 2010 whereas Maryland saw a decrease of 192 test-takers.
“We are pleased with the progress made with regard to student participation on the SAT and AP exams,” said Superintendent Robert M. Tomback. “Harford County scores continue to outpace the state and the nation, however, we will strive to increase rigor based on the needs of our students and set expectations even higher for all instructional areas, specifically the core subject areas.”