Sep 17, 2010

Fairfax and Montgomery Counties Outscore All Other Area School Systems on SAT’s

Although SAT scores remained flat nationally, perennial SAT powerhouses, Fairfax and Montgomery Counties continued their friendly rivalry for SAT bragging rights during the 2009-2010 school year.

An astonishing 38-point increase gave Montgomery County a record 1,653 out of a possible 2,400 composite (Math, Critical Reading, Writing) score. Scores were up among all demographic groups, with Hispanic and Black students showing the biggest improvements of 54 and 49 points respectively.

Unchanged from last year, Fairfax County’s score of 1,664 was still 11 points higher than that reported by the school district across the Potomac. It’s also 155 points above the national average.

“While the school system’s overall scores were unchanged, students at several of our high schools made significant improvements this past year,” said Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) Superintendent Jack Dale. “I am extremely proud of our staff members and our students.”

Of the 25 high schools in FCPS, 10 saw an increase in Critical Reading scores, 10 saw an increase in Math, and 11 saw an increase in Writing. County Hispanic students outperformed Hispanic students nationwide by 44 point in Critical Reading and Math and by 40 points in Writing. And Black students in Fairfax outperformed the national average by 47 points in Critical Reading, 46 points in Math, and by 50 points in Writing.

Average scores rose by 26 points in the District, to 1,404. But despite this dramatic increase, DC students still lagged behind the national average by 105 points.

Not everyone was impressed by the score increase posted by Montgomery County students. Skeptics were quick to point out that the percent of county students taking the SAT dropped from 78 percent in 2009 to 71.4 percent this year. It’s no secret that lower participation rates tend to drive up average scores.

In an interview with the Washington Examiner, Robert Schaeffer, public education director of the National Center for Fair and Open Testing, questioned the Montgomery County results. He suggested that a 38-point increase in one year is “mind-boggling” and possibly “merits an investigation.”

Montgomery county administrators countered accusations that certain students were discouraged from taking the SAT by suggesting that the lower numbers were because more students chose to take the ACT instead.

Whatever the explanation, you can bet local real estate agents are paying attention.

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