Tuesday, July 29, 2014

SAT Math - Rigor and Scores of 700 and Above

In the 2013 administration of the SAT, a score of 700 or above in math ranked in the 93rd percentile nationwide. In Idaho, 247 students, or about 1.5% of the 16921 juniors who took the math subtest, scored a 700 or better on the School Day administration of the SAT. Scoring a 700 is rare, to say the least – most students scoring at this level have their choice of elite schools (of course, they also have high gpa’s, are involved in campus leadership activities, etc).

As has been pointed out in previous posts, a large percentage of Idaho’s student enrollment is concentrated in a few large districts. Over 50% of Idaho’s students go to school in the ten largest districts, and over a quarter of Idaho students attend in the three largest districts, Meridian, Boise, and Nampa.

The vast majority of SAT math scores of 700 and above were also in large districts, but the distribution pattern was very different.

Note that Boise had over a third of the state’s SAT math scores of 700 or better with 9% of the students. Meridian had 15% of the scores with 13% of the students, Coeur d’Alene 10% with 4%, Idaho Falls 6% with 4%, and so on.

In Coeur d’Alene, the two comprehensive high schools (Lake City and Coeur d’Alene) had 9 of the 25 students who scored 700 or better. Sixteen (16) of the students were from Coeur d’Alene Charter Academy. Interestingly, the class of 2014 at CDA Charter had 105 students in the 7th grade, but when the class took the SAT in 11th grade, only 76 remained, a 30% loss among the student population. CDA Charter students are clearly a special group which achieves at a high level.

Sixteen (16) of the 71 students (23%) at CDA Charter who took the SAT during the School Day administration scored 700 or above in math, by far the highest percentage in the state. The total group of 71 students’ average score was 628. Timberline High had 15 of 352 students (4%) score 700 or better in math, with an average of 503.

However, since CDA Charter has a select population, and Timberline High is a comprehensive high school, a better comparison would be a specialized group in the Boise District. For example, the Treasure Valley Math and Science Center uses teacher recommendations, test scores, and an application process to select students who want an accelerated math and science program, and provides a rigorous curriculum, as does CDA Charter. TVMSC is a half-day program offered at a center on the campus of Riverglen Junior High in Boise.

Thirty-three (33) class of 2014 students who were enrolled at TVMSC as 10th, 11th, and or 12th graders took the SAT as 11th graders. Twenty-one (21) of those students (64%) score 700 or better on the SAT math subtest. The total group of 33 students averaged 698 on SAT math.

Students who scored 700 or better were obviously very skilled in math and in problem-solving. However, this level of performance also requires a certain level of content knowledge in mathematics. Of the 88 Boise District students who scored 700 or above in 2013, 87 took Advanced Placement Calculus AB and/or BC as part of their high school math programs. This means that these students were enrolled in AP Calculus AB or Accelerated Math Analysis (or in a few cases AP Calculus BC) as juniors. The lone student who did not take Calculus took AP Statistics as a senior, and was enrolled in Accelerated Math Analysis as a junior.

Of course, a number of students who took Calculus did not score 700 or above in math on the SAT. So enrollment in these courses does not guarantee the highest scores. However, taking advanced math does appear to be a prerequisite for scoring at the highest levels in SAT math.