October 7, 2014 Lawrenceville - Seniors Nia Lucas, (center left), 16, and Brianna Mullin (center right), 17, take their mid-exam at AP Calculus AB class at The Gwinnett School of Math, Science & Technology on Tuesday, October 7, 2014. SAT scores released Tuesday for the nation, the state and every school. SAT scores dipped in Georgia this year, with students scoring an average of 1445 in 2014, down from last year’s average score of 1452. The overall national average for 2014 was 1497. Georgia’s mean score for critical reading was 488, math was 485 and writing was 472. This year as last year, the Gwinnett School of Mathematics Science and Technology topped the list with a score of 1912, down five points from last year. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

Georgia’s SAT scores rise, along with nation’s

Georgia scores on the SAT college-entrance exam climbed, outpacing an upward trend nationwide but trailing the national average.

The results for the class of 2018 show a mean total score for Georgia of 1064, up 14 points from the prior year but still four below the national average, which rose eight points.

The scores in the two parts of the test — math and evidence-based reading and writing — were both up in Georgia by seven points, with 542 in reading and writing and 522 in math.

State school superintendent Richard Woods hailed the increases, calling them “historic improvements.”

The elected leader of the Georgia Department of Education, a Republican, faces re-election in November, with his Democratic challenger, Otha Thornton, describing the state’s educational system as below average.

Woods seized on the SAT scores, along with gains in the graduation rate and on the ACT scores reported last week, to paint a brighter picture.

“We have made unprecedented investments in a well-rounded, student-centered education system and we’re seeing the results of that shift,” he said.

Georgia graduates still trail their peers nationally in math, by nine points, but can brag about reading and writing, having bested the national average by six points.

And the numbers are better when looking only at the scores of public school students. The College Board released to the public only numbers for all students, but gave more detailed reports to Woods. His office reported that Georgia public school students scored an average 1054, five points above public school students nationally. Georgia outperformed public school peers nationally by eight points in reading and writing, with a score of 537, but trailed three points in math, with 517, which is up seven points from the year before.

Georgia’s scores rose despite an uptick in participation among all students, with 74,240 — seven of 10 from the class of 2018 — participating. That’s up 16 percent from the prior year’s 63,805. National participation rose 25 percent, reaching 2.1 million, according to the College Board. “This is the largest number of students in a graduating class to take the SAT ever,” said Jane Dapkus, a vice president for the nonprofit.

Participation in the competing college-entrance exam, the ACT, also rose. Results released last week showed Georgia outperforming the nation for the third year in a row, with participation rising by 6,000 students, to 56,481 for the class of 2018.

This is the second year of results under the redesigned SAT, so the scores cannot be compared to those prior to 2017.

The numbers from Woods’ office say Forsyth County Schools had the top average score in the state, 1167, followed by Oconee County Schools with 1163 and the City Schools of Decatur with 1162.

Georgia students target the University of Georgia first, with 27 percent sending their SAT scores there. Kennesaw State was next with 26.2 percent, followed by Georgia State, Georgia Southern and Georgia Tech. Those planning on majoring in math and statistics had the highest total score, with an average 1173, followed by physical sciences, social sciences, English and engineering.

Parenting was the top score predictor, with results correlating to the level of education achieved by the prior generation: Georgia children of a parent with a graduate degree scored an average 1151, 45 points above those whose parent had a bachelor’s and 148 higher than those with only a high school diploma.

College Board officials said their data show that students who take the official practice tests perform better when they retake the real test, regardless of race or household income, with those starting with lower scores making the greatest gains.

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