Students in Georgia scored an average of 1,452, up from 1,445 last year, marking the end of a five-year slide in the state, the College Board's 2012 SAT report shows. The national average was 1,498, two points lower than last year. The highest possible score is 2,400.
The report shows that the state's rate of participation in the test increased by one percentage point to 81 percent, well above the national rate of 31 percent. That gives Georgia the seventh-highest participation rate nationwide.
"We're absolutely pleased that the scores would go up and the participation rates would go up because that is not the norm," State School Superintendent John Barge said.
States with higher participation rates frequently have lower average scores, state education officials said in the statement. One reason Georgia didn't follow that trend is that the state implemented a more rigorous curriculum several years back, and this year's seniors were the first group to have gone all the way through the tougher curriculum, so they may have been better prepared for the test than in years past, Barge said.
This year's group was the largest and most diverse group of graduating seniors to take the test in Georgia history, state education officials said in a statement.
The scoring gap between the state's black and white students, called "the achievement gap," was 270 points, down from 272 last year and 35 points better than the national gap of 305.
"We are far outpacing the national rate of closing that achievement gap," Barge said. "We're doing a much better job with our minority students in closing that achievement gap. We're not where we want to be, but we are moving rapidly in the right direction."
Black and Hispanic students in Georgia outperformed those subgroups nationally. Georgia's black students scored higher than those nationwide on two of the three parts of the test — three points higher on critical reading and two points higher on writing. The state's Hispanic students outscored their counterparts in the rest of the country on all three sections, beating them by 22 points on the critical reading section, 11 points on math and 14 points on writing.
The SAT is developed, administered and scored by the College Board. The SAT is designed to test the subject matter learned by students in high school and the critical thinking skills necessary to succeed in college. The test has three sections — critical reading, mathematics and writing — each worth 800 points.