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SAT scores drop; ACT popularity is growing

Average national scores on two of the three sections of the SAT college entrance exam edged down for the high school class of 2012, which was the first in which more students took the rival ACT exam than the SAT.

The ACT narrowly surpassed the SAT, by fewer than 2,000 test-takers out of about 1.65 million who took each exam. But the crossover is no surprise. The number taking the ACT - historically more popular in the central states with the SAT more popular on the East and West coasts - has been growing more rapidly, partly because the ACT is now taken by virtually all students in nine states under the state testing regimen. Delaware is the only state with 100 percent SAT participation, though in most Northeastern states participation is at least 75 percent.

Because of the wide geographic variations in participation, comparisons among average state scores are not considered meaningful.

In West Virginia, about 2,900 high school graduates in the class of 2012 took the SAT, considerably less than the roughly 12,000 who took the ACT.

Scores from West Virginia students have remained largely the same. Last year West Virginia students scored an average of 516 in critical reading, 502 in math and 497 in writing. For 2011, students averaged two points less in critical reading, one point less in math and the same in writing.

Nationally, average scores on the critical reading and writing sections of the SAT fell one point each, to 496 and 488, respectively, while math scores were steady at 514, indicating stagnant achievement overall in a gradually widening and increasingly diverse pool of test-takers.

The maximum score on each section is 800, and 360 students nationwide scored a perfect 2,400.

"While West Virginia outperforms the nation in areas of the SAT, we recognize that our students must do better," said West Virginia Superintendent Jorea Marple in an emailed statement. "We are cautiously optimistic that as West Virginia's Next Generation Content Standards and Objectives become more imbedded into the classroom, our student performance will grow even further."

The College Board, the nonprofit membership organization of schools and colleges that owns the exam, also said its annual SAT report Monday that 43 percent of test-takers met a benchmark score indicating a 65 percent likelihood they can achieve a B-minus average during the first year of college. The figure was unchanged from a year ago.

Males continued to score slightly better on critical reading and math, and females better on writing. This year's SAT figures also continued to show substantial gaps between racial groups. Asian-Americans, for instance, scored on average 595 in math - 59 points higher than white students and 167 higher than black students.

Daily Mail writer Dave Boucher contributed to this report.



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