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Record number of students take SAT

August 27, 2008|Gale Holland | Times Staff Writer

A record number of low-income students and first-generation college aspirants from the high school graduating class of 2008 took the SAT admissions exam, officials said Tuesday, adding that scores overall did not change.

Educators in the past had explained small drops in average scores for the entrance test as an outgrowth of growing participation by students of varied backgrounds. But scores for the record number of 1.5 million students who took the SAT did not budge even a point from the year before, said officials with the College Board, the nonprofit organization that owns and administers the key college admissions test.

"We're encouraged by the stability of SAT scores," College Board President Gaston Caperton said.

Minority participation was 40%, up from 33% 10 years ago. But achievement gaps between white and Asian American students, and black and Latino students, persisted. College Board officials said the gaps could be blamed on inequities in school preparation.

Waivers on test fees for low-income students increased 15%; 1 in 7 students who sat for the exam did not pay, officials said. Students whose parents did not attend college remained relatively steady at 36%, they added.

Each of the SAT's three sections -- critical reading, math and writing -- has a maximum score of 800, for a perfect total of 2400.

Overall, white students outscored Mexican American test-takers on the reading section, 510 to 446; black students recorded an average of 438. (The College Board shows average scores by ethnicity as reported by the test-taker.)

Asian American students topped the math scores, with an average of 564, compared with 549 for white students, 453 for Mexican American students and 429 for black students.

The SAT test results are at www.collegeboard.com/cbseniors.

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gale.holland@latimes.com

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