PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Ninety-five percent of public high school juniors took the SATs this year, 16 percentage points higher than last year, because Rhode Island now requires students to take the college admission test.
In 2018, the SATs and PSATs became a graduation requirement, part of the state’s federal education plan.
Rhode Island is also one of 10 states, including Maine and New Hampshire, that give the SAT to students for free. According to the College Board, which administers the test, offering the SAT at no cost during the school day makes college more accessible. Rhode Island has seen substantial growth in the numbers of students of color participating in the test, with a 50-percent increase for black students, according to the Rhode Island Department of Education.
In April 2017, Rhode Island replaced the widely unpopular Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) in grades 3 through 8 with a new test — a highly regarded Massachusetts test. The PARCC, which critics said was too long and too hard, became so controversial that the General Assembly and former education Commissioner Deborah Gist backed away from making it a high-stakes graduation requirement.
Also in 2017, Rhode Island adopted the PSAT and SAT for high school students. But these tests aren’t “high-stakes,” because students don’t have to reach a certain score to graduate.
State education Commissioner Ken Wagner said the SAT makes more sense because it’s a commonly accepted college entrance examination, students and families are familiar with it and take it seriously, and it’s a better measure of a student’s readiness to handle college-level work.
Still, between 2017 and 2018, the percentage of Rhode Island students who scored proficient on the SAT declined, from 56 to 50 percent in reading and from 34 to 30 percent in math.
Rhode Island’s SAT scores are lower than Massachusetts’ scores. On the reading test, Rhode Island’s 2018 graduates had a mean score of 513. In the Bay State, they scored 562. In math, Rhode Island’s students scored 505, compared to a score of 563 in Massachusetts.
But a spokeswoman for the College Board cautioned against state-to-state comparisons, because each state tests different populations of students. Some might have more English-language learners; others might have more students living in poverty.
Wagner said it’s not uncommon for scores to decline when more students take a standardized test.
“When you get a dramatic increase in participation, the last students to take the test are generally lower-performing students,” he said. “They’re taking the test because the school told them to. The real comparison will be next year, because we are already at 95 percent participation.”
Last year, the Department of Education released its PARCC scores in August. This year, the scores on the new test won’t be released until late November, after the Nov. 6 midterm elections.
Because Rhode Island this year is switching to the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System, Wagner said, the department needs more time to pull together the data, which will be available by district and by school.
Read the full report from the College Board at collegeboard.org/program-results.
How R.I. SAT scores compare in region:
Ninety-five percent of Rhode Island’s public high school juniors took the SAT this year. Here are the mean scores in English and math for each state in New England, and the national mean scores in both subjects. Students can score up to 800 on each test, with a total possible score of 1600.
*The College Board reports a participation rate of 97 percent for R.I. high school graduates in 2018. The R.I. Department of Education reports a 95-percent participation rate, because it focuses on public high school juniors in 2018. The College Board does not report a national participation rate.
Published at Thu, 25 Oct 2018 05:01:00 +0000