Results of SATs from the Montgomery County Public Schools’ (MCPS) class of 2019 showed a drop in scores for the first time since the SAT was redesigned in 2016. (Photo Courtesy)

ROCKVILLE – Results of SATs from the Montgomery County Public Schools’ (MCPS) class of 2019 showed a drop in scores for the first time since the SAT was redesigned in 2016. The class earned an average score of 1119 out of 1600, a 41-point drop from the previous graduating class.

Still, the county’s scores are above state and national averages as the drops occur nationwide. Students across the country earned an average score of 1059, a nine-point drop from the class of 2018. Maryland students, in particular, saw a 25-point drop in scores for an average of 1041.

From the local level to the national level, the fall in scores can be attributed to a push to make the SAT more accessible, leading to higher participation rates.

In 2018, MCPS, along with 15 other county school systems in the state, offered in-school testing for students in a majority of high schools. Across the country, 43% of students took the SAT on a school day, a significant jump from 36% of students in the previous graduating class.

As a result, MCPS saw participation grow overall in the county, with 75.6% of students taking the SAT, an increase from the class of 2018 by two percentage points.

In African and Hispanic American populations, participation went up by 11.4 and 17.8 percentage points, respectively. The increase was a “key indicator for postsecondary education readiness,” a statement by the Maryland Department of Education read.

All racial groups recorded by College Board saw decreases in their scores.

“As we expand our reach among students throughout every community, it is natural for us to have a slight calibration in scores as these first-time test takers learn and grow,” Karen Salmon, state superintendent of schools, said in a statement. “We are proud that more students than ever before are thinking about their future beyond high school, and I am confident that our scores will continue their recent upward trend as this rigorous exam becomes integrated into all schools.”

College Board cited school day test-takers as more likely to be low-income or a part of a minority group, emphasizing the importance of in-school testing to increasing participation.

Currently, in-school SATs are only held in March or April each year. But there’s a push, both in the county and nationwide, to increase its availability. Ten states and Washington, D.C. offered the SAT free to public school students during the 2018-2019 school year. In Montgomery County, it was the first year SATs taken on school days were offered for free.

“MCPS students perform at high levels on the SAT, and we are pleased to see the continued growth in the number of students who take this important assessment,” Superintendent Jack Smith said in a statement. “Our collective work of engaging students in rigorous coursework and pathways is key to their success, and we must continue to examine our efforts to ensure all students can participate, make progress and perform at the highest levels.”

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