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Texas SAT Scores Drop, but Participation Rates Surge

More black and Hispanic students in Texas are taking the SAT, but they aren't doing as well, according to a report released Monday by the Texas Education Agency.

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A report from the Texas Education Agency on the state's 2012 SAT scores shows two things about Texas students over the past five years: More students are the taking the test, but they aren't performing as well.

More students are taking the college admissions test — especially Hispanics and blacks, whose participation rates have increased by 65 and 42 percent, respectively, since 2007. Students' scores, though, decreased from 2o11 by about 5 points across the board in reading, math and writing, continuing the downward trend of the past five years. 

“We are clearly building a college-going culture in Texas. The increased minority participation is important to the health of this state because of our changing demographics,” Commissioner Michael Williams said in a statement.

About 58 percent of 2012's graduating class took the SAT, which was about a 6 percent increase from the year before.

Gov. Rick Perry in a statement also praised the development. 

“The longevity of our state’s economic success will be built on an educated workforce that can compete in the global marketplace,” he said. “I’m proud to see that the number of Texas students aiming for a brighter future is skyrocketing, and I remain committed to improving quality, efficiency and access to higher education.”

According to the College Board, which administers the SAT, it is common for scores to decline as the number of students taking it increases. 

Texas ranked 19th in public school student participation rates, which ranged from 100 percent in Delaware and Maine to 2 percent in North Dakota.  

A score of 500 or above on each of the math, verbal and writing portions of the SAT is considered "college-ready" by Texas Education Agency standards. For the class of 2012, students average scores were still below that: 470 for reading, 496 for math and 456 for writing. They were also below national averages, which were 496, 514 and 488, respectively.  

That mirrors student performance on the ACT, another college admissions assessment. Of the 39 percent of graduating seniors who took the ACT, according to a report released in August, 24 percent of the class of 2012 met all four benchmarks in English, reading, mathematics and science. The percentage, which has been stagnant since 2010, is just below the national average of 25 percent.

By state college readiness standards, a measure that, in addition to ACT and SAT scores, accounts for students' performance on state standardized tests, 47 percent of Texas students are graduating prepared for college. 

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