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For the first time, more than half of New York City’s high school juniors took the SAT

Dylan Peers McCoy

More than half of New York City’s high school juniors took the SAT in 2016, marking the city’s highest ever participation rate, the education department said Friday.

In total, 3,520 more students took the SAT this year than did in 2015 — a 4 percent increase driven in part by a program that allowed students at some schools to take the test for free during the school day, officials said. Overall, average SAT scores decreased slightly in writing and math while remaining constant in reading.

New York City has been working to increase access to the crucial college-entrance test among low-income students over the last several years. Ninety-one high schools provided the exam to students free and during the school day in 2016. Even bigger plans are in the works for this year, when the program is expected to expand to all of the city’s high schools.

In total, over the past two years, the share of black high school juniors students who took the exam has increased by 12 percent, and the share of Hispanic juniors has increased by 10 percent.

“We’re laser-focused not only on improving access to college readiness courses and exams, but also working together with our educators to strengthen instruction and support and improving students’ performance,” Chancellor Carmen Fariña said in a statement.

More students taking the SAT doesn’t necessarily mean any more are prepared for college-level work, though.

On average, city seniors who took the exam at least once during high school scored 466 out of 800 in math and 446 in reading, according to the data released on Friday. Those remain well below the SAT’s standard for college readiness.

Last year, the city celebrated a three-point increase in average math and writing scores and a four-point increase in reading scores.

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