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August 30, 2005Russell Schweiss
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Governor Bush Announces Record Number of Florida SAT and AP Test-Takers
Florida leads the nation in minority test-taker increases
TALLAHASSEE Governor Jeb Bush and Education Commissioner John L. Winn today announced record numbers of Florida students are taking the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) and Advanced Placement (AP) exams, with the percentage of minority test-takers steadily increasing and surpassing the national averages. More than 93,500 of Florida's 2005 high school graduates took the SAT, representing 65 percent of the total number of high school graduates. This is the largest number ever of Florida students who have taken the SAT and represents a 7 percent increase from last year. In addition, Florida has the second greatest increase in public school AP exam-takers when compared to all other states from 2004 to 2005.
"In Florida, we have high expectations for our students. We want them to dream big and to have the tools and skills they need to make those dreams a reality," said Governor Bush. "Thanks to our partnership with the College Board, more Florida students have access to higher education and more students are including college as part of their future plans. I am proud of the increases we are seeing in the number of test-takers, particularly among minorities, and encourage all students to consider themselves 'college material.'"
The most noteworthy increase in the number of Florida students taking the SAT is among minorities. Overall, minority student participation has increased from 39 percent in 1999 to 44 percent in 2005. Nationwide, the percentage of minority test-takers has been increasing, but at a slower rate than in Florida. In the class of 2005, there was a 15.5 percent increase in the number of African-American students taking the SAT compared to an 11 percent increase nationwide. The number of Hispanic students taking the exam increased 24.7 percent compared to a 17.8 percent increase nationwide.
"We are delighted to see a seven percent increase in the number of Florida seniors who are planning for college by taking the SAT this year," said Gaston Caperton, president of the College Board. "This is nearly double the increase in the percentage of Florida seniors who took the SAT last year and is evidence that the state's commitment to equity and excellence for all Florida students is working because more of Florida's students want to put a college education in their future."
Florida student participation in the SAT is climbing, however the average score is down two points from 2004. According to the College Board, the larger the percentage of students taking a test, the lower the average scores are likely to be. The average score for Florida African Americans remained the same as the prior year, and scores for all other racial-ethnic groups increased, Hispanics by four points, whites by seven points and Asians by 21 points.
On AP exams, Florida's students continue to excel in participation and performance. The Sunshine State has the second greatest increase in public school AP exam-takers when compared to all other states from 2004 to 2005, and the second largest increase among all states in the number of students passing (receiving grades of 3-5) AP exams. The number of African-American and Hispanic students participating has close to tripled since 1999. AP participation for Hispanic students in Florida's public schools is close to double the participation of Hispanic students seen nationwide for the second year in a row. Florida leads the nation with the largest number of African-American students taking AP exams and passing them.
"We've created a culture of aspiration where students - regardless of their background - are striving to succeed," said Commissioner Winn. "More students than ever before are taking advanced coursework and pre-college exams in high school, leading to more students going on to postsecondary education. We know that participation in advanced level coursework while in high school is the biggest predictor of postsecondary success."
Additionally, the number of Florida public school tenth graders taking the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT) more than tripled from 1999 to 2004. Last year the state saw an increase of 16.4 percent in the number of public school tenth grade students taking the PSAT/NMSQT, which is offered free-of-charge to all Florida tenth graders. Again, the most significant increase was among minorities. In the last year alone, participation among African-American tenth graders jumped by more than 30 percent and among Hispanic tenth graders by more than seven percent.
For more details on Florida's performance on SAT, PSAT/NMSQT and AP exams, please visit www.fldoe.org. To learn more about Florida's unique partnership with the College Board, log on to www.collegeboard.com/floridapartnership.