Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Math Transit Sat Scores Rise in Mathematics to 1970s Levels

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Math Transit Sat Scores Rise in Mathematics to 1970s Levels

Article excerpt

Today's college-bound seniors have nearly achieved the average math score rung up by students in the early 1970s, but verbal scores on the Scholastic Assessment Test still remain well below those of 25 years ago. Students in Missouri and Illinois exceeded the national averages in both subjects.

Overall, the slightly higher scores mean that more students are taking honors courses and classes in calculus, chemistry and physics, the College Board said Thursday. The board administers the nation's main col lege-entrance examination.

More than 1 million students have taken the SAT so far this year. The average math score was 508, up from 506 in 1995 and just one point behind the 1972 average of 509.

The average verbal score was 505, up from 504 last year but still 25 points below the 1972 average of 530.

In Missouri and Illinois, students slightly increased their scores on the SAT over last year.

Missouri seniors scored 570 on the verbal test this year, as opposed to 569 last year, and 569 in math, as opposed to 566 last year.

In Illinois, seniors scored 564 on the verbal exam and 575 in math, as opposed to 563 and 574, respectively, last year.

The SAT is more popular on the East and West coasts than in the Midwest and South, where the ACT test administered by the American College Testing service is more common. In Missouri this year, 9 percent of the state's high school graduates took the SAT; in Illinois, 14 percent took it.

Test results released Thursday continue to show men outperforming women. Although the women's average verbal score of 503 was only 4 points behind men, their average math score of 492 trailed the male average by 35 points.

In Missouri and Illinois, female students scored only slightly lower than male students on the verbal test. But the gap was much wider on the math test, where Missouri females scored 551, to 586 for males. In Illinois, females scored 558 on the math, compared with 594 for males.

"The gap is narrowing slightly. While women are taking more science and more math courses, they haven't closed the gap yet," says Gretchen Rigol, the board's director of admission and guidance services.

Referring to the lagging verbal results, Christopher Cross, president of the Council for Basic Education, a Washington-based organization that advocates liberal arts education, said students were not asked to write enough - not only in English class, but in other classes too. …

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