There was a 3 percent drop this year in the number of 11th grade students who met or exceeded the standard for college and career readiness in the reading and writing portions of the SAT.

The scores were released Wednesday by the state Department of Education. According to the state, 62.4 percent of students who took the test during the in-school testing day scored at or above the standard on the English Language Arts portion of the exam, compared with 65.4 percent in 2017.

Despite the drop, more than half of students tested are still achieving a passable score, the state said.

“It is slightly less [than the previous years] but it is still the strongest point of the results,” said Peter Yazbak, director of communications for the department.

Students are considered college and career ready if they score at least 480 points out of 800 on the English Language Arts portion of the SAT, and 530 out of 800 on math. Students who reached that target have a 75 percent probability of earning a “C” in that subject in college.

According to the College Board — the organization that administers the SAT — results from years prior to 2017 can not be compared to current results due to a change in scaled scoring and benchmark standards.

Further, Connecticut results cannot be compared with results from other states because this state requires all students to participate. Only 10 other states pay for the test to be administered in all their public schools.

The ELA performance, although worse than last year, looks like positive news when compared to the math scores, where only 40.3 percent of students are meeting or exceeding the standard. This percentage, however, has remained stable over three years of statewide, in-school testing.

Although math scores remained low, there was a slight increase – from 432 to 440 – in the average score among students who are eligible for free school meals. However, the score is still well below the college and career readiness standard.

In English, the score declined slightly from 454 to 452 for low income students. An increase or decrease of 10 or more is considered significant by the College Board, which means these changes may not be indicative of an uptick in performance.

Despite the marginal increase in math, low income students are scoring significantly behind their peers. Students who are not eligible for free or reduced school meals  are scoring on average 534 in English and 546 in math, meeting the college and career readiness standards in both categories.

The achievement gap doesn’t stop with income, however. White and Asian students continue to score higher than black and Hispanic students.

 In the 33 lowest ranking school districts in the state, known as the Alliance districts, just over one third of students are meeting the standards. These students not only take the SAT in school, but the state pays for them to take the PSAT in the fall in order to prepare.

“Our goal is to make sure all of our students are prepared to succeed in college and their careers,”  said Education Commissioner Dianna R. Wentzell. “To that end, we are dedicated to supporting districts’ efforts to close achievement gaps and raise student performance across the board by continuing to engage and work with leaders, teachers, and other stakeholders to meet the diverse needs of districts and schools statewide.”

In addition to the drop in scores this year, 0.8 percent fewer 11th grade students sat for the exam.

According to Wentzell, a participation rate of 95 percent or above is considered good. This year, Connecticut just hit the target, with exactly 95 percent of eligible students participating. The reduction could be due to a snow day in many of the districts on testing day, Yazbak said, which resulted in rescheduling and potentially more absences.

The results of these exams contribute to the grades schools receive from the state. Each year, the state releases a 0-to-100 score for each school in the state. The SAT results will account for just under half of a school’s score. Those school ratings will not measure or determine whether students eventually catch up, because schools do not measure the scores if students independently take the exam again.

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