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Connecticut's 2004 Grads Continue Strong Performance on SAT

Connecticut’s 2004 Grads Continue Strong Performance on SAT Verbal Score Up Three Points; Math Up One Point; Total At 30-Year Hight Connecticut is Tied for Second Among States in SAT Test Participation

(HARTFORD, CT) Connecticut’s 2004 high school graduates recorded the highest combined average SAT scores in 30 years – even with one of the nation’s highest percentages of students taking the exam in anticipation of attending college this fall. “Our students continue to excel in one of the nation’s most highly regarded measures of achievement,” said State Education Commissioner Dr. Betty J. Sternberg in announcing the scores. “The percentage of Connecticut students planning to go to college and their academic performance are both impressive.”

The College Board, which administers the SAT, reported that this year, 33,221 of Connecticut’s 39,191* high school graduates (public and nonpublic combined) – an estimated 85 percent -- took the SAT. This compares with a national average of 48 percent and an average for New England of 82 percent.

Connecticut’s combined average score was up four points to 1030 – four points above the national average, which was unchanged from last year.

Connecticut’s performance represents:

  • one of the highest participation rates in the nation -- 85 percent;
  • Connecticut’s highest combined score since 1974;
  • a one-point increase in mathematics, bringing the average to the highest level since the data were first reported by graduating class 32 years ago;
  • a three-point increase in the verbal score, bringing it to the highest level in 17 years; and
  • the highest scores for black and Hispanic students ever.

*Based on Projection of High School Graduates in 2004 by Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education


The SAT performance gap between minority and nonminority students

While overall scores are very good, gaps between subgroups of students continue to be of concern. For example, the largest gap between minority and nonminority student scores in Connecticut is between black students and white students – 217 points on combined averages. “Clearly this is unacceptable,” Commissioner Sternberg said, “and we must take further specific actions to close the achievement gaps by addressing issues of expectations and preparation.

“However, it is clear that we are moving in the right direction,” Dr. Sternberg added. “It is heartening, for example, to see the significantly improved performance of Connecticut’s Hispanic students.” According to The College Board, from 2003 to 2004 the average verbal score of our state’s Hispanic students increased by 9 points, compared with 3 points nationally; their average math score increased 10 points, compared with one point in the nation.

The average total score for black students increased three points to 838, bringing it to an all-time high. The scores of Hispanic students increased 19 points to 901 – surpassing by 11 points the previous high score recorded in 2001. The average score for Asian students declined by three points to 1072, but is still the highest of any racial or ethnic group.

The SAT performance gap between males and females

The gap in math performance between females and males in Connecticut widened slightly to 37 points this year as male scores increased by two points and female scores were unchanged. Nationally, the gap is 36 points. In Connecticut, this gap has ranged from a low of 30 points in 2002 to a high of 45 points in 1982.

In verbal, males outperformed females in Connecticut and nationally. The male-female gap in Connecticut was nine points compared with eight points in the nation.


  •  Connecticut's performance was among the best in the nation when taking into account both participation rate and average score: tied for second with Massachusetts in participation and third in both verbal and math among 19 states with participation rates 60 percent and above.
    Connecticut’s 2003-04 seniors who took the SAT and had taken the PSAT both as sophomores and as juniors scored 189 points higher than seniors who had never taken the PSAT and 122 points higher than those who took the PSAT only as juniors. This shows the importance of preparation by taking the PSAT in both preliminary years.
    • Connecticut’s percentages of students scoring 600 and above on the verbal and math sections show that high numbers of the state’s students are performing very well. In mathematics, Connecticut tied the nation with 25 percent of SAT takers scoring above 600. The percentage of Connecticut students scoring above 600 on the verbal test (24.5%) was the highest recorded in 25 years and above the 22 percent recorded nationally.
      • Connecticut student performance was strong in just about all categories, with most scores the highest in many years:
        • --Average verbal score (male): up three points – highest level in 15 years.
        • --Average verbal score (female): up four points – highest level in 17 years.
        • --Average math score (male): up two points – highest score in three decades.
        • --Average math score (female): unchanged – maintained highest score in three decades.
        • Because participation rates differ from state to state, it is inappropriate to compare individual states' average SAT scores. "It is also inappropriate to consider this exam as the sole indicator of student achievement," said Commissioner Sternberg.
        • The SAT is only one indicator of student academic performance. Connecticut’s annual Strategic School Profiles (SSP) and annual Condition of Education report provide other information on student achievement and on our public schools. This information is available on the Department’s website at
        • Writing Test to be Added to SAT I in 2005
        • The College Board will introduce a new component to the SAT I in 2005. A new writing assessment will become part of the SAT along with changes in the verbal section. “Connecticut students are positioned to do very well on the new SAT writing assessment,” Dr. Sternberg said, “because we have been testing our students’ writing ability in a way similar to the SAT approach since the mid-1980s. Most important, our students have demonstrated strong and continuously improving writing performance on the Connecticut Mastery Test in Grades 4, 6 and 8, the Connecticut Academic Performance test in Grade 10, and the National Assessment of Educational Progress.”
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Dr. Betty J. Sternberg



For Immediate Release
10:30 a.m., Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Contact: Henry Garcia 860.713.6528 or Tom Murphy 860.713.6525