Oregon students outperformed the national average on the SAT for the 2016-17 school year, the Oregon Department of Education reported Tuesday.
The SAT was redesigned in 2016, so scores can’t be directly compared with previous years. The test is scored on a range from 400 to 1600, with two sections each scored from 200 to 800.
Oregon public school students averaged 555 on the evidence-based reading and writing section. The national average was 527. Oregon students scored 543 on the math section. The national average was 517.
The SAT measures college and career readiness, according to The College Board, the nonprofit association that administers the test.
Benchmark scores on the SAT indicate a student would have a 75 percent chance of earning at least a C in first-semester college courses in that subject area. For reading and writing the benchmark was 480, and for math, it was 530.
Benchmarks are set lower for students in 11th grade and below to indicate a student is on track for college or career readiness.
ODE is considering the SAT, as well as the ACT, to replace the Smarter Balanced assessment tests at the high school level.
ODE Deputy Superintendent Salam Noor told the House Interim Education Committee last week that using the SAT, or a test like it, would increase the relevance of the test for students as well as increase opportunity. More students would be likely to participate in a test that they could present to a college, he said. Using the SAT as an assessment would also allow lower-income students to take an entrance exam accepted at all U.S. colleges at no cost.
“Providing this opportunity is really an equity strategy for our state,” Noor testified. “It levels the playing field.”
Taking the SAT costs students around $50, with additional fees possible, and many students take it more than once to improve their scores.
Switching from the Smarter Balanced tests would cost Oregon approximately $3 million more per biennium, Noor testified. ODE hopes to implement a new assessment test by spring 2019.
ODE reported 12,700 students took the test last year and participation improved for every student group.
“The increases are a sign that we are moving in the right direction to close opportunity gaps among our students,” said Noor in the news release.