Washington leads nation in SAT scores

Washington students lead the nation in average scores for the three major SAT exams (reading, writing, math) for the ninth year in a row, according to the Office of the Superintendent for Public Instruction (OSPI). The rankings are compiled from states in which more than half of the eligible students took the exams.

Students in Washington had the highest math score of states with more than 50 percent participation, scoring a 529 on average. The state tied with New Hampshire for the highest average in reading, with students in both states averaging a 523 on that exam. The average writing score for Washington students of a 508 was the fourth highest average in the country.

“Results like these show our education system is working,” state superintendent Randy Dorn said in a Sept. 14 statement. “Our teachers and students are doing a tremendous job.”

Even in a time of good news, Dorn felt it necessary to remind the Washington State Legislature that these kinds of positive results are likely to disappear as the state and national budget crisis deepens.

“I just hope the Legislature and governor understand that results like these will certainly level off as our state budget worsens and we continue to cut the education budget,” he said.

The combined scores of Washington students in all three exams was 520, higher than all states that had more than 30 percent participation. According to the OSPI, this is a relatively remarkable statistic because “generally the more students who test, the lower their scores.”

Numbers-wise, 39,000 students took the SAT’s last year in the state, with 33,085 coming from Washington’s public school system. 2011 saw an additional 4,000 students from the public schools taking the test, an increase of 13 percent from 2010. Students of color also increased their participation rates, according to the release, with participation among black students increasing 21.8 percent, while Hispanic students increased their participation rates by 19.8 percent. Asian students in Washington schools also saw a 13.2 percent increase in participation, according to OSPI.

The three groups as a whole increased participation rates by 16.6 percent. As a whole, the state had 57 percent of students take the SAT, higher than any other Western state, except Hawaii.

The increased participation rates across the board is another positive sign, said Dorn.

“Our participation rates please me as much as our scores. I’ve continually talked about providing access to all programs for all students. When students are able to take college-entrance exams or college-level courses, they challenge themselves and perform better in all areas,” he said.

For national 2011 SAT results, visit


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