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Minorities Found 'Significantly' Responsible for Rise in S.A.T.'s

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Improvements by minority students were "significantly" responsible for the slight rise in average Scholastic Aptitude Test (sat) scores in 1982--the first increase in 19 years--the test's sponsor said last week.

On the mathematics section, the average 1982 score for blacks rose to 366, four points higher than in 1981, the College Board said. The average score for whites remained unchanged at 483. The average score for all of the nearly one million students who took the test rose one point, to 467.

On the verbal section, the average 1982 score for blacks rose nine points from 1981, to 341. The average score for whites rose two points, to 444. The average verbal score for all those who took the test also rose two points.

Earlier this month, the College Board released for the first time scores of ethnic students, revealing that in 1981 the gap between average scores for blacks and whites on the verbal section of the test was 110 points; on the mathematics section, the gap was 121 points. The sat is scored on a scale of 200 to 800.

Trends Released

Last week, again for the first time, the Board released trends in average sat scores among various ethnic groups.

The figures reveal that since 1976 blacks have steadily improved their performance on the college-entrance test, while the average scores for whites have dropped.

In 1982, blacks represented 8.9 percent of the nearly one million students who took the sat Collectively, minority students made up 18.3 percent of the test groups; whites represented 81.7 percent.

For Puerto Ricans, the total increase in scores was 12 points; for Mexican-Americans, five points.

Average scores among blacks on the verbal section of the sat rose nine points between 1976 and 1982, from 332 to 341. Their average mathematics scores rose from 354 to 366, a 12-point gain. Among minority groups, blacks made the greatest gains on the test.

During the same period, average verbal scores for whites fell from 451 to 444, a seven-point decline. Their average scores on the mathematics section of the test dropped 10 points, from 493 to 483.

Average scores for all students taking the test during the seven-year period fell five points on the verbal section, from 431 to 426, and five points on the mathematics section, from 472 to 467.

"Our examination of sat scores since 1976 indicates that, as a whole, minorities are making progress in closing the gap that exists between their scores and those of the white majority," said George H. Hanford, the College Board's president.

But he added, "The magnitude of the difference in scores between minority groups and whites is still significant. ... The trend data do not alter the Board's view that the overall disparity in scores reflects an educational deficit which the nation must overcome."

"The increase in scores for most minority groups also coincided with an increase in the number of minority students taking the test," Mr. Hanford said. "This is an encouraging sign since an enlarged population of test takers is often associated with a decline in scores." Since 1973, minority representation among students taking the sat has risen from 11 percent to 18.3 percent.

While officials of the College Board declined to comment about the possible reasons for the improved minority sat scores, some experts have attributed the higher scores to such factors as the success of the federal Title I program and a better academic environment in many inner-city schools.--tt

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