Sponsored by:

Comment, blog & share photos

Log in | Become a member
The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, August 28, 2002

New high set in SAT math

 •  Graphic: Public-private school gap remains

By Jennifer Hiller
Advertiser Education Writer

Hawai'i public-school students in the class of 2002 reached an all-time high in math, but declined slightly on verbal scores — and still lag behind the national average on one of the country's major college entrance exams.

Scores on the College Board SAT released yesterday show Hawai'i public-school students trailing the national public-school average by 19 points in math and 38 points on verbal skills, although education officials say they are closing that gap.

"Hawai'i's public-school SAT scores have gained ground on the national averages in the past five years," said Superintendent Pat Hamamoto. "While we are encouraged that public school scores are gradually increasing, there is substantial room for improvement."

Hawai'i public-school students improved their average math score on the test by five points over last year, but showed a one-point decline on the verbal portion.

Nationally, math scores reached a 32-year high, while verbal scores fell slightly.

Hawai'i public-school students also had a record high math score and slight decline in verbal.

The results show a continuing gap between public and private schools. Hawai'i public-school students scored an average of 493 on the math portion of the SAT and 462 on the verbal section.

Religious-school students gained nine points in math, to 555, and two points in verbal, to 525.

That was 29 points better than the national average for religious schools on math, but six points lower on verbal.

Results online

• Complete SAT results can be found at www.collegeboard.com.

Hawai'i independent-school students rose one point in math, to 599, and jumped five points in verbal, to 550. That is well above the combined 1119 national average for independent schools.

The public-private school gap in SAT performance partly reflects the different student populations served.

"We do certainly serve a much broader range of students, and we do encourage them to apply to college and aim for post-secondary education," said DOE spokesman Greg Knudsen. "It's natural that the private schools, with a more select group of college-bound students, would perform better as a whole. More students are taking the test from the public schools."

When all Hawai'i students are considered together, seniors scored four points higher on math and 16 points lower on verbal than the national average.

Karen Ginoza, president of the Hawai'i State Teachers Association, said Hawai'i students showed gains in recent years that outpace those of most other states.

"We are headed in the right direction, yet there is so much more our elected lawmakers could do to speed the pace," she said. Improving resources for students and teachers and better school facilities could help student performance, she said.

A higher percentage of students took the SAT in Hawai'i than nationwide: 53 percent of the Hawai'i class of 2002, compared with 46 percent of the nation's high-school graduates, or 1.3 million students.

Participation rates varied from 4 percent in Mississippi and North Dakota to 83 percent in Connecticut, making it difficult to compare scores by state.

By gender, 4,009 females — 54 percent of the Hawai'i graduating class — took the SAT, compared with 3,401 males, 46 percent of the class.

Hawai'i males had higher average scores than females in both sections of the test, averaging 533 on math versus 509 for females, and 488 on verbal, a point higher than females.

Nationally, males outscored females in verbal 504 to 498, and in math 531 to 496.

The highest possible score on the SAT is 1600 combined, or 800 in each section.

The three-hour, primarily multiple-choice test measures verbal and mathematical reasoning. Either the SAT or rival ACT entrance exam is required for admission to most four-year colleges and universities.

ACT data released last week showed Hawai'i students capping their sixth straight year of solid performance, improving their scores slightly and tying for seventh-best in the nation.

Unlike the SAT, the ACT covers four areas: English, math, reading and science.

The College Board SAT is sometimes confused with the Stanford Achievement Test given every year to children in grades 3, 5, 8 and 10.

Reach Jennifer Hiller at jhiller@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-8084.

• • •