Mid-July may be slow when it comes to professional sports, but interpreting national, state, and local SAT scores has become something of a sport in its own right. Around here, we’re poring over the Rochester Business Journal Schools Report Card, trying to make sense of what all these numbers mean. Are you wondering the same thing?
One a granular level, score averages probably don’t mean as much as you think… just because your teen goes to a school with high average SAT scores doesn’t guarantee that her scores are impressing colleges. Fortunately, the inverse applies as well. But understanding some of the benchmarks provides context for individual score goals and achievements.
A superficial review of national and state averages might have some New Yorkers running to their realtors for out-of-state listings:
2013 National Averages
SAT Reading: 496
SAT Math: 514
SAT Writing: 488
2013 New York State Averages
SAT Reading: 485
SAT Math: 501
SAT Writing: 477
Apparently, the Empire State doesn’t make the grade compared to many of its neighbors (I’m afraid to look at New Jersey’s scores!) However, numbers as large as these can hide many truths. A look at local Rochester scores sheds lights on some specifics:
2013 Rochester Regional Averages
SAT Reading: 581-473 (408)
SAT Math: 572-458 (394)
SAT Writing: 593-477 (406)
The score ranges represent the highest to lowest from local public school districts with one glaring exception: Rochester City School District Averages are in parentheses. Running a weighted average including RCSD scores would surely lower our local SAT averages to the point that a great deal of excellence from school to school would be obscured. I imagine this plays out on a state level as well, since New York has so many struggling urban districts. This point is itself a cause for serious concern. Clearly, we need educational reform that can level the playing field for motivated college bound students in every district. But we can also see in the data that some districts are delivering, at least in broad strokes, on the promise of educational opportunity and achievement.
If you’re a Rochester local, you won’t be surprised to learn that Pittsford and Brighton hold the highest averages in each SAT section or that Victor, Penfield, Naples, Honeoye Falls-Lima, and Canandaigua also lead the pack. But no matter where you live, always remember that averages mainly tell us the point that separates one half of a group from the other half. A truly motivated student with above average preparation and committment can aspire to exceed any of these averages.
Interestingly, New York ACT scores are much higher than the National Average across the board. I have my own theories explaining this disparity but would love to hear from others…