For Immediate Release: Tuesday, August 26, 2003
College Entrance Exams Confirm Importance of Science, Math Classes
PIERRE - Entrance exams taken by college-bound students confirm the importance of taking challenging math and science courses while still in high school.
"Mathematics preparation is the single best indicator of success in postsecondary education," said Robert T. Tad Perry, executive director of the South Dakota Board of Regents. "Yet, too many students enter college without a solid grounding in the math and science fields."
Today, The College Board reported an average 91-point score difference (513 vs. 604) on the math section of the SAT exam, when South Dakota students who took less than four years of math were compared to those taking four years or more in the subject. About 4 percent of South Dakota high school graduates took the SAT.
The ACT exam, taken by about 70 percent of South Dakota's high school graduates, reported similar outcomes. South Dakota students who took less than three years of math in high school scored an average 16.7 on the ACT math sub-test this year, while those who took two years of algebra, plus geometry and trigonometry, scored 21.7. When a calculus course was added, the average math score rose to 25.4. ACT exams are scored on a scale of 1 to 36.
ACT and SAT both recommend high school students take a challenging set of courses while in high school to prepare for college-level work. "The recommended core curriculum, consisting of four years of English, and three years or more each of math, natural sciences, and social sciences, is critical to a student's postsecondary success," Perry said.
One option for students to take that challenging coursework, and potentially earn college credit, while still in high school is through the Advanced Placement (AP) Program. "AP is a small but growing effort in South Dakota," Perry said. The number of South Dakota students-1,606-taking AP exams was up 12 percent this year, according to data released Tuesday. The number of exams administered in South Dakota was also up by more than 10 percent. Fifty-nine schools in the state reported at least one student taking the AP exam, up from 46 schools two years ago.
AP classes, offered in 35 subjects, are equivalent to a first-year college course and can be taught by high school teachers following certain course guidelines. "With the many course delivery modes available today," Perry said, "AP is a very good option for any school that wants to do more to prepare its high school students for college-level work and have them earn college credit at the same time."
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