Fairfax County students score above national average on SAT

A sign for Fairfax County Public Schools headquarters. (WTOP/Nick Iannelli)

The Fairfax County, Virginia, school system said Wednesday the Class of 2021 performed above the national average on the SAT, and said only slightly fewer students took it compared to last year.

The Fairfax County overall mean score of 1201 surpassed both the state average of 1151 and the global average of 1060, the school system said.

All scores were based on the College Board public reporting as of Sept. 15, 2020.

The numbers showed a racial disparity, with the highest average score coming from Asian students at 1294, followed by white students at 1220. Hispanic students scored an average of 1095 and Black students had the lowest average, at 1054, according to FCPS.

“These data continue to show evidence of persistent and predictable racial disparities,” the school system said in a statement. “As we center equitable access in our decision-making, responding through the expansion of responsive learning experiences will be important. This testing data serves as a reminder that we still have much more to do as a system, and as a community, to provide the academic supports that all of our children need to be successful.”

The College Board reported a 31.4% drop in SAT participation globally due to pandemic challenges and test cancellations.

The number of graduating students in Virginia who took the SAT dropped from 65% to 41%. The drop was even sharper in Maryland, from 85% to 47% of graduating seniors. In D.C., the College Board said, 100% of graduating seniors took the SAT in 2020; that figure fell to 90% in 2021.

Fairfax County’s participation rate dropped just 4.4%. FCPS offered SAT School Day for the first time in September 2020. It offered students the opportunity to take the SAT at no charge to them at their school on a designated weekday.

“We recognize that priorities changed for many during the pandemic. Offering convenient access to the SAT at no cost was our way to ease the burden on our families and students,” FCPS Superintendent Scott Brabrand said. “The fact that FCPS saw such a small decrease in participation shows that this concept worked.”

As a result of the program, 9,318 Fairfax County seniors took the SAT, which represented 63% of the Fairfax County Public Schools senior class.

FCPS will again be offering the SAT School Day to grade 12 students on Oct. 13.

Valerie Bonk

Valerie Bonk started working at WTOP in 2016 and has lived in Howard County, Maryland, her entire life. She's thrilled to be a reporter for WTOP telling stories on air. She works as both a television and radio reporter in the Maryland and D.C. areas. 

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