While Oregon graduation rates are still hovering in the basement of the national ranking, its students have made noticeable improvements on their SAT exams, according to the College Board which administers the college entrance test.
During the 2016-17 school year, young Oregonians who took the SAT outperformed their fellow students nationwide.
Participation from Oregon students in Advanced Placement (AP) tests also saw an increase, reports the College Board.
On average, Oregon public school students scored 555 – on a range from 200 to 800 – on the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing portion compared to the national average of 527. In Math, too, Oregon students fared well, scoring on average 543, several notches over the national average of 517.
In the Portland Public Schools district, 872 students took the SAT, with an average total score of 1159, breaking down as 589 on Reading and Writing and 570 on Math.
Participation in the test was up this year across all groups, compared with the number of registered test-takers from the 2015-16 school year.
Last year, 151 African American public school students took the SAT. This year, the number close to doubled, with 279 African American students having completed the SAT.
Even so, with 1,316 African-American 12th graders in Oregon, that means only 21 percent of them took the test; while Black students only represent two percent of all test takers.
Moreover, of the entire student population of Oregon, only 2.4 percent are Black/African American, according to 2016-17 data from the Oregon Department of Education.
Also in the 2016-17 school year, 247 African American students in Oregon took an AP exam, 30 more students than last year. Their scores improved too, which are graded on a scale of one to five. In 2015-16, 72 Black students scored above three, compared 89 that scored above three this school year.
“While it is always good to see Oregon students performing well, I am most encouraged by the increased participation among student groups that have been historically underrepresented,” Deputy Superintendent Salam Noor said in a statement.
The improved performance, cited Noor, can likely be attributed to a number of statewide plans and programs aimed at closing the opportunity and achievement gaps for underserved student populations, as well as addressing culturally responsive practices.
They include implementing new ethnic studies programs, the English Learner Outcome Improvement Plan, and the African American Student Success State Plan. Passed in 2015 as HB 2016, the plan works to improve academic disparities experienced by Black students in Oregon, from early childhood through post-secondary education.