Beating national trends, city students make modest SAT gains

City students continued to make modest gains on the SAT and Advanced Placement exams last year, and AP exam participation increased as well, the city announced Wednesday.

City students’ scores rose in a year when, nationally, reading scores stayed flat and math and writing scores fell. City students posted a 4-point gain in reading and 3-point gain in writing, while math scores remained flat.

But city students continue to lag far behind the national average. On average, city students posted a composite score of 1340 out of 2400, while the state average was 1468 and the national average was 1497.

The same number of city students took the SAT last year than the year before, after a 15,000-student participation gain since 2002. But the number of students taking AP exams rose, as they have since at least 2008.

The 9.5 percent increase in the number of city students taking AP exams, where passing scores can exempt students from college requirements,  follows a push by the Bloomberg administration to get more students of color enrolled in the college-level courses. The city’s Advanced Placement Expansion Initiative, launched last year, added science, math, and technology AP classes to 55 high schools that had historically offered few of the courses.

City students passed AP exams at the same rate that they had the previous year, suggesting that the expansion reached students who were equally prepared for the challenging courses but who had not had access to them in the past.

The city officials said they are expanding College Application Week this year to more than 100 schools, after a pilot program at eight schools last year. Participating schools are hosting events like financial-aid application workshops and offering extra application assistance for students.