Every year at this time the College Board releases SAT® data on the most recent graduating high school class, including state-level data. Assessing this data gives us the chance to glean new information about students, but it also presents us with the opportunity to meet with states and discuss the progress they are making in their efforts to expand access to rigorous course work and high-quality instruction to more students.
The top line news this year is that the group of students who took the SAT in 2009 and aspire to attend college is the largest and most diverse ever. My College Board colleagues and I are very pleased with this news because we are committed to creating access to college for more students, especially those who are traditionally underrepresented in college.
As the SAT data bear out, strongest performers on average had three things in common: they had completed a core curriculum, had taken their school’s most rigorous courses, and had familiarized themselves with the
test. In our region, states have been making a concerted effort to increase access to rigorous course work for all students.
I’d like to share a few examples of success from the Middle States. In Maryland over the last five years, the number of African American students who scored 3, 4 or 5 on an AP® Exam doubled, while participation among this group of students grew by 120 percent. This is notable because often scores dip when more students are introduced to a test — the pool of test-takers is larger. By AP and other measures, minority and socioeconomically disadvantaged students have achieved record-breaking academic success across the state of Maryland. These numbers, representing real students and trends, give us all reason to emulate the hard work of our colleagues in Maryland.
In Pennsylvania, we’ve seen increased participation in SAT and AP in rural districts that have historically been overlooked. In addition, 19.5 percent of the 105,066 SAT takers in Pennsylvania were minority students, up from 14.5 percent in 2004. Almost 36 percent will be the first in their families to go on to college. The College Board has partnered with our colleagues at state and district levels on an initiative called “Progress PA,” which seeks to expand the number of Pennsylvania students poised for college admission and college success who have historically been on the margins of the collegiate experience and the opportunities it represents.
All of the states in the Middle States Region ranked in the top 11 nationally for overall SAT participation, and I am heartened that our region also set new records for minority participation. In New York, 40.8 percent of the state’s 159,886 college-bound seniors who took the SAT this year were minority students, which is an increase from 29.1 percent in 2004. In addition, more than a third (39.8 percent) of New York’s SAT takers will be the first in their families to go to college. All of this information assures us that we are on the right track, and we are bringing all students better opportunities for finding success in college.
Another recent report, coauthored by Sandy Baum, senior policy analyst at the College Board, is How Much Are College Students Borrowing? This analyzes information about students who graduated in 2007-08 with an associate or bachelor’s degree or a certificate. While 41 percent of them graduated with no debt, the number who graduated with debt increased from 54 percent in 2003-04 to 59 percent in 2007-08. The largest increases were found among the students who earned certificates and two-year degrees. For more information, you can access the full report here.
Finally, it is important to note that Forum 2009 will be held in New York on Oct. 21–23. It’s a terrific opportunity for you to meet your colleagues from around the country, and I hope as many of you as are able will plan to attend this important opportunity for us to learn from one another. I am proud of the mission and message of the College Board. It is a privilege to work with each of you as we connect more students to college success and opportunity.
Click here to see events and workshops in the Middles States Region.
During this pivotal time in our nation, the College Board invites you to join us for two special opportunities to connect with education professionals dedicated to effecting change and increasing college readiness.
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