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2000 Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) Results for Montgomery County Public Schools
PROFICIENCY AND PARTICIPATION RATES
The average score on the Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) for Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) students in 2000 was 1093. The Maryland average score was 1016 and the national average score was 1019. These large differences were the result of MCPS averages for the verbal and math sections of the SAT exceeding the averages for the state and the nation. MCPS surpassed the national score in verbal by 31 points and the math score by 43 points, for the total difference of 74 points. The MCPS results were 77 points higher than the state results--29 points higher in verbal and 48 points higher in math. For an explanation of which students are included in this analysis and other data explanations, see the Interpretation Guidelines.
|2000 SAT Average Scores|
The MCPS total was the result of a 557 on math and a 536 on verbal. The math average continued a 10-year upward trend resulting in a 15-point gain over that time. This was while the verbal scores remained fairly stable.
Comparisons with other districts of similar size in 1999 (see Table 1, below) show MCPS with substantially higher scores than all of them except Fairfax County, Virginia. It was not possible to get 2000 data from those districts in time for this report. However, as can be seen when reviewing MCPS data, results in large districts do not change much from year to year. The 1999 MCPS average was 1096 while the average in Fairfax was 1094. To put these results in perspective, the type of population in each district should be considered as well as the percent of students tested.
The type of population in each district is defined by the percent of students receiving free or reduced price meals (FARMS), the variable we use to define educational load. Two of the other districts, Fairfax County (18%) and Baltimore County (27%), have FARMS data similar to that of MCPS (23%). The MCPS scores are similar to those of Fairfax but well above those of Baltimore County (1008). The other districts included in Table 1 have FARMS data that are substantially higher (40% or more) than MCPS indicating they have a higher educational load.
When comparing averages for groups it is important to consider the percent tested because it is usually inversely related to group average scores. That is, as the percent tested of a group increases, the average score for the group declines. The only district in Table 1 with a similar percent tested to MCPS (79%) is Fairfax County (84%) and the average SAT scores are almost the same. The other districts have substantially lower percents tested (61% or less) and also have substantially lower SAT scores (1008 or lower). In most of these districts the lower SAT scores are probably related to their higher educational load.
|County||Enrollment||% FARMS*||Math||Verbal||Total||% Tested|
|Palm Beach County|
|San Diego City Unified|
|* The data for Free and Reduced Meals reported in this table is for one year.
This differs from the MCPS educational load which is the percent of students ever in FARMS.
|** The San Diego City Unified School District is unable to provide this information.|
Since we started tracking SAT data in 1973 the percentage of MCPS seniors taking the test increased from 62 percent to 80 percent of the enrollment. This level of participation is the highest for MCPS in that time. (See Table A1).
Table 2 (below) shows SAT average scores and participation rates from 1997 to 2000 listed by schools in alphabetical order. (Details of school results are presented in Table A3.) Schools with statistically significant trends across the four years are indicated in Table 2 with the following symbols denoting the shape of the trend.
|3||Upward with an interim reverse in direction|
|4||Higher in the interim years than in 1997 or 2000;|
|5||Lower in the interim years than in 1997 or 2000;|
|6||Change not significant|
The statistical significance1 is based on 4-year trends in which all of the years are considered, not just the beginning and ending year. Consistent trends such as the first two in the above table may seem fairly obvious whether the analysis is based on multiple or just two data points. However, even here the multiple year approach can improve the analysis because sometimes small, non-significant, year by year changes accumulate to significant changes over multiple years. The biggest advantage to the multiple year approach is seen in more complex patterns such as the horseshoe shaped ones on the 4th and 5th lines in the above table. Comparing only the first and last years in those patterns could lead to the conclusion that there has been no movement in the school's results. However, there was plenty of movement, either upward or downward, in the interim years.
1Statistical significance testing is done to help determine whether group differences in average scores are very unlikely due to random fluctuation. If results are reported as significant, the probability of random differences is small. In this report differences will be reported as significant if this probability is less than 5%. This will be denoted by (p < .05) It should be noted that 'significant' does not always mean important. Small differences can be statistically significant for large groups. For example, for groups of 5,000, an 8-point difference in the SAT Total score is significant. It is debatable whether that is an important difference on a scale that ranges from 400 to 1600.
Another advantage of analyzing multiple years instead of just two years is that the number of students in the analysis is larger. This is important because it reduces the chances that 'significance' was the result of a few extreme cases.
Eight schools in Table 2 (below) showed statistically significant trends in SAT average scores (p < .05) between 1997 and 2000. Four of these schools showed upward trends, with two schools consistently upward and two schools significantly upward with some reversal during the interim years. One school showed a decline in SAT averages during the interim years followed by a recovery in 2000 to about the same level as 1997. Another school showed higher scores in 1998 and 1999 than in either 1997 or 2000. Two other schools showed consistent declines in SAT scores.
All schools but one showed the same or higher SAT participation rates in 2000 compared to 1997. In six schools the trends in SAT participation rates were consistently upward. In four schools the upward trends in SAT averages were accompanied by no systematic shifts in SAT participation rates. Also, in four other schools the upward trends in SAT participation rates were accompanied by no statistically significant trends in SAT averages. One of these schools, Rockville High School, showed both an increasing SAT average and an increasing participation rate. Another school, Wheaton High School, showed a downward trend in SAT averages along with an upward trend in SAT participation. John F. Kennedy High School showed a similar pattern, although the downward trend in SAT averages was, as noted above, only marginally significant (p .06).
The SAT participation rate provides one indicator of the academic "opportunity structure" of a school. Of course, there are other, more detailed indicators of students' participation in a rigorous academic program. However, the SAT participation provides an important focus for a student to plan and prepare for college throughout the high school years. Therefore it is important to maintain this academic opportunity structure in the face of increasing educational challenges in the community. The percentage of students who have ever participated in free and reduced price meals (FARMS) provides significant indication of the educational challenges that confront a school. Since 1997, 16 high schools have shown an increase in the percentage of students who ever participated in FARMS, usually in small increments each year (see Table 3, below). In all, annual increments in FARMS have been the pattern of change throughout MCPS over the past 20 years. Three schools showed statistically significant upward trends in FARMS and still maintained or increased their SAT participation rates. One school in particular, Wheaton High School, showed a 19 percentage-point increase in SAT participation rate despite an 11 percentage point increase in FARMS.
Percentage of Students Tested
Mean Total Score
|Walt Whitman||95||99||100||10 0||1202||1178||1223||1220|
|* Educational Load is calculated as the percentage of students in the school
who ever received free of reduced priced meals.