Oklahoma’s 2002 high school graduates scored higher than their national counterparts on the SAT and are taking more Advanced Placement (AP) classes than in previous years, the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education learned this week.
In the latest report from the College Board, which administered the SAT exam to more than 1.3 million high school seniors nationwide, Oklahoma graduates scored an average of 565 on the verbal portion of the exam and a 562 on the math portion. Last year, Oklahoma test takers achieved an average verbal score of 567 and math score of 561. The national SAT averages were 504 on the verbal portion and 516 on the math portion. In addition, minority students from all ethnic groups continued to score higher than their counterparts nationally.
College Board officials said fewer students took the test in Oklahoma compared to other states, resulting in higher-than-average scores. In Oklahoma, just 8 percent of Oklahoma graduates took the SAT exam compared to 46 percent nationally. A total of 3,065 Oklahoma graduates took the SAT this year, down from 2001 when 3,199 students took the test.
Six states across the nation had participation rates of 8 to 10 percent. Of those states, Oklahoma ranked 4th on the verbal portion and 5th on the math portion. Minnesota, Kansas and Missouri consistently fared better than Oklahoma.
“Regardless of the fact that we’ve experienced a slight increase in math scores, we must continue to work at building a strong core curriculum for our schools that will enable our students to prepare for the rigors of college-level work. The academic preparation students receive in high school has a direct effect on how they will perform in college,” Chancellor Hans Brisch said.
The College Board also reported that both the number of Advanced Placement candidates and AP exams continue to increase in Oklahoma. This year there were 8,944 test takers taking 14,433 AP examinations. Last year, there were 7,619 students who took a total of 12,037 AP exams. In addition, there were 284 schools with at least one student taking an AP exam, and 169 schools with at least 10 students taking an AP exam.
“We are pleased with the increased participation in AP courses,” State Regents’ Chairman Carl Renfro said. “Students who score well on the AP exams are a step ahead when they come to our colleges and universities. AP courses, and other rigorous experiences in high school, help students be better prepared for success in the years ahead.”
State Regents have implemented many key initiatives during the past few years that have helped Oklahoma students prepare for college and the workplace. Programs such as the Educational Planning and Assessment System (EPAS) and Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Program (GEAR UP) are two examples.
State Regents have also seen extraordinary response to the Oklahoma Higher Learning Access Program (OHLAP), which rewards Oklahoma students from families whose income is $50,000 or less, with free tuition to any Oklahoma public college or university. It will also cover a portion of the tuition at an accredited private institution or for select courses at career technology centers. In order to be eligible for the program, students must enroll in the program during their eighth, ninth or 10th grade years, take the required 17 core courses, maintain at least a 2.5 GPA, refrain from drugs and alcohol and stay out of trouble. Nearly 7,000 sophomores were enrolled in the program last year.
Oklahoma colleges and universities, but primarily higher education institutions on the East Coast and West Coast, use the SAT as part of their admissions process. The College Board, a national, nonprofit membership association dedicated to preparing, inspiring and connecting students to college and opportunity, administers the exam.