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Manatee students’ SAT scores rise

MANATEE — Manatee students scored slightly higher on SAT college entrance exams than their peers statewide, according to figures released today by the Florida Department of Education.

The average 2009 Manatee graduate scored a 500 on critical reading and 504 in math. In writing, they averaged a 483. Each section has a maximum score of 800.

Compared to last year’s average scores, Manatee graduates improved by two points in math and by five points in writing. The average math score held steady at 500.

Statewide, the average graduate scored a 497 on critical reading and 498 in math, according to figures released by the College Board. Those scores are each one point higher than students performed last year. In writing, they averaged a 480, one point lower than in 2008.

Compared to the nationwide averages, Florida students trail considerably in each of those categories. They are four points behind in critical reading; 17 points lower in math; and 13 points behind in writing.

Average national scores on the SAT dipped slightly for the high school class of 2009, while gender, race and income gaps widened, according to the College Board. The average SAT score dropped from 502 last year to 501 on the critical reading section of the test. Math scores stayed at 515, and writing fell from 494 to 493.

More than 1.5 million members of the class of 2009 took the exam, which remains the most widely used college entrance exam despite recent gains by another test, the ACT. The SAT tries to measure basic college-readiness skills, while the ACT is more focused on what students have learned in the classroom.

A record 100,179 students in Florida took the test this year, an important part of most college admissions. That’s an additional 1,000 students from last year.

In Manatee, the number of graduates who took it decreased slightly. Here, 966 of 2,488 graduates took the test, according to FDOE statistics. That’s only 38.8 percent of that senior class.

Last year, 40.6 percent of graduates took the test here.

In Sarasota County, 48.54 percent of 2009 graduates took the test.

Sarasota results show graduates scored an average of 520 on reading, 524 in math and 501 in writing. Last year, they scored a 515 in reading, a 520 in math and a 492 in writing.