BANGOR – Last year’s Bangor High School seniors scored higher on the SAT than students both statewide and across the nation, Superintendent Robert Ervin said this week.
The combined reading and math scores here were 1,062, compared to 1,002 in Maine and 1,021 nationally.
On average, the Class of 2006 received a 529 on the critical reading portion of the college entrance exam, compared to the Maine average of 501 and the national average of 503, Ervin told the Bangor School Committee on Tuesday.
In math, Bangor students’ average score was 533, compared to the Maine average of 501 and the national average of 518.
Seniors here also fared better in the writing portion, which was offered for the first time this year. Bangor students’ average score was 507 compared to the average Maine score of 491 and the average national score of 497.
Bangor’s scores are especially notable in light of the fact that 80 percent of students took the test, Ervin said. When more students take a test, there is a greater likelihood that the average scores will be lower, he said.
Bangor’s SAT participation rate is higher than that of both the state and the nation, he said. Seventy-three percent of graduating seniors in Maine and 48 percent of seniors nationwide took the test.
This year, the combined SAT scores declined both in Maine and nationwide. College Board officials said the drops were due partly to some students deciding not to retake the test since the writing portion was added.
Combined scores declined by 12 points in Maine and seven points nationwide.
In Bangor, that downward trend also was evident, with combined scores dropping from last year’s 1,083 to 1,062. Critical reading scores declined from 540 and math scores from 543, Ervin said.
The drop was due partly to the length of the exam, he said. With the additional 45 minute writing portion, the SAT now lasts four hours.
“To some extent in a high pressure test such as the SAT, when you extend the time, you start to get an effect from test fatigue,” Ervin said. “Kids can do so much and then it starts to break down.”
But he said that Bangor has “established a pattern of being on the order of 35 points better than the state and national averages in both math and verbal” and that he expects that trend to continue.
Bangor’s higher scores are a result of programs that are geared to helping all students perform at a higher level – not just those who are high achieving, he said.
“The reason we do well is because all students are encouraged and pushed to achieve at higher than the generally expected levels,” he said. “The whole plan is for us to accelerate them up to their class peers.”