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Native students show gains on college test
Wednesday, August 27, 2003

The SAT scores of Native American students increased slightly this year, part of a national trend of improvement on the popular college entrance exam.

Based on a scale from 200 to 800, Native students scored an average of 482 on the math portion of the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), and an average of 480 on the verbal portion, according to results released yesterday. Both scores were far below the national average of 519 for math and 507 for verbal, the College Board, the group that administers the SAT, reported.

But the results are part of a long-term trend of improvement, the board said. In the past 10 years, American Indian and Alaska Native students have shown a 6-point gain on the math and 3-point gain on the verbal portions of the standardized test.

The scores put Native students among the higher-performing racial and ethnic minorities in the country. Only Asian-Americans and "others" performed higher on both portions of the test. White students also showed higher test results.

When broken down by state, the performance varied greatly. In Oklahoma the 5 percent of test-takers who were Native showed an average math score of 554 and verbal of 559, far above the national averages.

In Montana, where only 2 percent of test-takers were Native, the results were below the national averages. The average math for Native students was 473 while the average verbal was 491.

The same went for New Mexico, where 4 percent of test-takers identified themselves as American Indian or Alaska Native. Their average math score this year was 419 while the average verbal was 429.

Of the 1.4 million students who took the SAT this year, only about 1 percent were Native American. Their average grade point average, or GPA, was 3.17 on a 4.0 scale. This was lower than the GPAs of Asian (3.41), White (3.37), Other (3.25) and Mexican-American (3.21) students.

Nearly half, or 47 percent, of Native Americans who took the SAT are considered "first-generation" students. First-generation indicates that neither of a student's parents earned a college degree.

Parental education is linked to higher performance, the board reported. Students whose parents received a bachelor's or a graduate degree show higher scores on both portions of the test. Students with parents that only attended high school, or did not graduate, scored significantly below the national average.

Another factor tied to SAT scores is the subjects a student takes. Physics, pre-calculus and calculus are associated with better performance on the test. The majority of Native students didn't take any of the three subjects, while most Asian, Mexican-American, White and other students did.

The SAT is the most popular college entrance exam. It is typically required of universities in the East.

Most Western schools, on the other hand, allow students to submit their SAT or American College Test (ACT) scores. The national ACT scores are being released today.

State by State Results:
2003 National Report

Test Data:
Strong SAT Math Score Gains for Almost All Racial/Ethnic Groups between 1992 and 2002 | SAT Scores Vary by Race/Ethnicity | Minorities Were 35 Percent of SAT Takers in the Class of 2002 | More Tables and Graphs

Relevant Links:
College Board -

Related Stories:
Native students show gains on college test (08/28)

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