Despite COVID-19, 2.2 million kids in the Class of 2020 took the SAT exam — but average scores fell

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Average scores on the SAT college entrance exam dropped for the graduating Class of 2020, across the country and in Florida, the New York-based College Board announced Wednesday.

The good news: “Members of the class of 2020 were able to take the SAT before COVID caused shutdowns across the world—on the weekend and increasingly in the school setting during the school day,” Priscilla Rodriguez, VP, College Readiness Assessments, said in a statement.

The not-so-good-news: The Class of 2021 has faced “unprecedented” disruptions because of COVID-19 and next year’s results will “reflect the impact of COVID-19 on the class of 2021,” Rodriguez said.

The SAT, as well as the ACT, are exams used for college admissions, though a number of colleges have begun to eliminate the exams for purposes of admissions.

Still, millions of students still take the exam to get into college.

For the SAT’s high school Class of 2020, a total of 2,198,460 students took the exam. Those would be 2020 high school graduates who took the SAT during high school.

The average score for the class of of 2020 was 1051, compared to 1059 in 2019. The 2020 score was a combination of 523 in math and 528 in reading and writing.

The drop from the year before could have been impacted by more kids taking the exam at school, allowing students from all backgrounds and achievement levels to take the test for college admission purposes. Lower scores would be added to the mix of results.

“The increase in SAT School Day participation is significant because it provides additional access for underrepresented minority students,” Rodriguez said in a statement. “We strive to provide opportunities for students from all walks of life, and SAT School Day is a significant part of advancing that mission.”

The data for the class of 2020 show that Black students on average scored a 927 on the SAT exam; and Hispanic students, 969, compared to 1217 for Asian students and 1104 for white students.

In Florida, 186,321 students took the SAT in the Class of 2020.

The average score was 992, lower than the national average, and lower than the 2019 average in Florida, which was 999.

The 2020 average for Florida was a combination of 479 in math and 512 in reading and writing.

Florida’s average score in math is particularly troubling because many students would likely struggle in college-level math courses, according to the College Board’s metrics on college readiness.

Diane Rado
Diane Rado has covered state and local government and public schools in six states over some 30 years, focusing on policy and investigative stories as well as legislative and political reporting. She spent most of her career at the St. Petersburg (Tampa Bay) Times and the Chicago Tribune. She has a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and did a fellowship in education reform at the University of Michigan in 1999-2000. She is married to a journalist and has three adult children.