What’s Behind the New SAT Scores in San Diego County

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On the Eastlake High School campus in Chula Vista, arrows show the distance to UCLA, Arizona State University and UC Berkeley, July 2, 2018. (Megan Wood/inewsource)

Megan Wood | <em>inewsource</em>

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More than half of San Diego County high school seniors who took the SAT during the 2016-17 school year were considered “college and career ready” based on the latest test results, but there’s more to the numbers.

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Beginning in March 2016, the test had a new format and an updated scale. The penalty for guessing on answers was also eliminated.

“It was a complete redesign,” said Scott Hill, a regional vice president of the College Board, a nonprofit that administers the SAT.

The agency also created a new standard for students heading to college. It says students who score above a certain level in math and reading and writing have a 75 percent chance of receiving a C or higher in a related college course their first semester.

Data show 58 percent of San Diego County students scored above this standard in both subjects — that’s nearly 10 percentage points higher than the state average. The College Board categorizes these students as “college and career ready.”

Click here to see the percent of students, by school and district, who met the “college and career readiness” benchmarks set by the College Board for the 2016-2017 SAT tests in California.

Because it’s a new test, comparing the latest results to past years isn’t valid, said James Murphy, director of national outreach for the test prep company, The Princeton Review.

“If there’s any value in tests, it’s that you can track the same thing over time. And we can’t do that now because they’ve redesigned the test. … But going forward, yeah, this is going to be absolutely useful as another data point so you can see how students are making progress,” Murphy said.

High school seniors in the San Dieguito, Poway and Carlsbad school districts performed the highest on the new SAT, while seniors in the Mountain Empire, Sweetwater and San Diego school districts were the lowest performers.

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Hill said the College Board redesigned the SAT for the first time since 2005 to make the test more relevant to what students learn in school and to better align with what colleges and universities want them to know.

The test now has two sections and is based on a total score of 1600. The previous test had three sections and was based on a total score of 2400.

inewsource created a searchable database of SAT test results for California high school seniors by school that allows students, parents, educators and others compare performance.

Five schools with most college ready students

  • Canyon Crest Academy (San Dieguito High School District) — 93.9%
  • Torrey Pines High (San Dieguito High School District) — 90.1%
  • Poway High (Poway Unified School District) — 84.7%
  • Classical Academy High (Escondido Union High School) — 84%
  • Westview High (Poway Unified School District) — 83.9%

Five schools with the fewest college ready students

  • King-Chavez Community High (San Diego Unified School District) — 5.4%
  • Gompers Preparatory Academy (San Diego Unified School District) — 14.7%
  • Mountain Empire High (Mountain Empire Unified School District) — 17.7%
  • Hoover High (San Diego Unified School District) — 18.4%
  • Lincoln High (San Diego Unified School District) — 18.8%

Note: Percentages show high school seniors who score at or above 530 on math and at or above 480 on reading and writing.

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