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SAT scores fall slightly for state's class of 2011

September 14, 2011 |  8:01 am

SAT writing workshop

Average SAT scores for California’s high school class of 2011 dropped slightly compared with last year, but more college-bound seniors than ever took the exam, according to a report released Wednesday.

California test takers averaged 1,513 points out of a possible 2,400, scoring 499 in critical reading, 515 in mathematics and 499 in writing. The average score for critical reading was down two points and math and writing down one point from 2010.

Still, the state’s scores topped the national average of 1,500, which was down nine points from the year before. The numbers were released by the nonprofit College Board, which administers the SAT and Advanced Placement programs.

The increasing representation of students from varied academic backgrounds may factor into the poorer scores, according to the report, which noted that there were also more high-performing students in the class of 2011 than ever before.

The SAT exams have been criticized on several fronts, including for persistent ethnic and gender gaps and from those who argue that high-stakes standardized tests have failed to improve performance and equity. More colleges are making the tests optional, but they remain a key piece of college applications to most schools.

Nationally, nearly 1.65 million students in the class of 2011 took the SAT, 222,658 of them in California. The state’s participation increased 4% from 2010 and 13% from 2007. Nearly 65% of California test takers were ethnic minorities -- with 45% reporting that English was not exclusively their first language.


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Photo: Young people work at an essay-writing workshop held at Kaplan Test Prep in Encino in 2005. Credit: Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times