Spinning for Perry: TEA Press Releases on the SAT

Posted on September 16, 2011


You be the judge here: Is this spin or just rushing out a press release?

UPDATE: I checked my alternate email over the weekend and had SEVERAL reporters mention the same issue with me–on the day the press release was issued which was before I wrote the blog . They could not believe that the scores were buried so low in the press release. They, too, had come to expect a discussion of the scores in the beginning of the story.

TEA should not be a politicized agency. But it is. And to the detriment of the public and children in the state.

In 2009, TEA released the following

SAT scores show mixed results

AUSTIN – SAT results released today show increased scores on the mathematics exam for public and private school students in Texas, while the mean math score nationally remained unchanged.

    Tracking a national trend, the critical reading and writing scores declined for Texas public and private students.

    The 2009 mean math score for all Texas students was 506, an increase of one point. The mean score on the critical reading test was 486, a decline of two points. The mean writing score was 475, a decline of five points.

    The national scores for all students were 501 for critical reading, a one-point drop; 515 for math, which represented no change; and 493 for writing, a one-point decline.

    Among public school students nationally, the scores were 496 and 487 for reading and writing, respectively, which represented a one-point decline on both tests. The mean math score held steady at 510.

    Among Texas public school students, scores increased for Asian-American students this year, while other student groups had mixed results.
For the state overall, the number of 2009 graduating seniors who took the SAT rose to 141,733, up from 137,024 the previous year. The number of Texas public school seniors tested was 112,485, a decline from 116,875 tested the previous year.

    “Today’s SAT results are mixed, which is surprising given last week’s news that ACT scores for Texans students were at a record high. We know an increasing number of students took the ACT this year and higher education enrollments are expected to increase this fall, so more students are seeing college as a viable option,” Commissioner of Education Robert Scott said.


Then in 2010, TEA released this:

AUSTIN – Texas led the nation with largest increase in the number of public school students who took the SAT, the College Board reported today. Texas public schools had 123,154 graduating seniors who took the college admissions test, which is a 10,678 student increase over the participation rate for the Class of 2009.

Even with the large increase in public school student participation, students in most of Texas’ major ethnic groups earned higher scores this year than in 2009.

When private school students are included, 148,102 Texas students took the SAT, a 6,369 student increase over 2009 participation rates.  That represents the country’s largest year-over-year increase in test takers.  It also represents the highest percentage increase of any state with more than 10,000 test takers.

“Texas has worked to increase the college-going culture, and this is proof that students are responding.  The Class of 2010 had large increases in the number of students taking both the SAT and the ACT admission exams,” said Commissioner of Education Robert Scott. 

Another spike in participation is expected next year because the state paid for more than 56,800 members of the Class of 2011 to take either the SAT or ACT.

The Texas Education Agency will make an announcement in the coming months regarding the availability of free SAT and ACT testing for juniors this school year.

Forty-three percent of the all Texas test takers reported that they will be the first in their families to go to college.  “Texas educators have worked to make more students college ready. We have created Early College programs that allow students to earn college course credit while still in high school. Our Advanced Placement program, which also can provide students with college credit, continues to expand.  I think all these efforts have helped to show more students that they are ready for college,” Scott said.


The SAT is a three part test consisting of critical reading, mathematics and writing sections, although many universities only consider the reading and math scores when making admissions decisions.

Among Texas public school students, every major student group, except white students, increased their scores on either two parts of the exam or all three. There was a 10 percent participation increase, for example, among students who classified themselves as Mexican American, and these students raised their average critical reading and mathematics scores by five points each and their writing score by three points.

Below are the score results for the major student groups in Texas.  Results for additional student groups are included in the total results.


Now, in 2011, we get this:

Texas sees huge growth in SAT participation

AUSTIN – Data released today by the College Board shows that over the past five years, Texas has experienced a huge increase in the number of college-bound minority students who take the SAT college admissions test.

The number of Hispanic students in Texas public schools who took the SAT between the 2006-2007 school year and the 2010-2011 school year increased by 57.7 percent.

Over the same five-year period, the number of African-American SAT examinees in the public schools increased 43.4 percent, while the number of Asian examinees in Texas increased 23.4 percent.  The number of all Texas public school students taking the test increased by 21.6 percent during this period.

 “There is clearly an increase in the college-going culture in this state. Whether it’s elementary schools decorated with college pennants, new high-tech science and technology programs or expanding dual enrollment and Advanced Placement courses, there is a synergy in Texas that is causing more students to consider going to college,” Commissioner of Education Robert Scott said.

The latest data shows that 147,960 students or 54 percent of the Class of 2011 who graduated from Texas public schools took the SAT.  The figure rises to 58 percent when private school students are included in the calculation.

Texas ranked 18th  in public school student participation. Around the country, the public school participation rate ranged from 100 percent in Maine to three percent each in Iowa, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota and South Dakota.

States with the lowest participation rates typically have the highest test scores, while those that draw from a larger pool have lower scores.

Minority public school students in Texas outpaced their counterparts nationally on the mathematics test. Hispanic students in Texas, who represent 24 percent of all the Hispanics nationally who took the SAT, increased their mean mathematics score by one point, to 467. The score for Hispanics nationally fell one point to 460.

African-American public school students in Texas, who represent about 12 percent of all African-American students tested nationally, increased their mean mathematics score two points to 438, substantially higher than the score of 425 posted nationally by African-American public school students.  The math scores for this group nationally dropped one point.

Below are the scores and participation information for the three-part test, which consists of critical reading, mathematics and writing sections.

Maybe I’ve seen Rick Perry’s people in action too long, but why does the 2011 press release glorify participation rates and ignore the scores in the written text??? The text included scores in previous years. The Commissioner provided an honest assessment of the results in the previous years. Why not now??? Maybe because there is a presidential race heating up??

Must stop here–my head is spinning too much.

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