Eleventh-graders in Cape Elizabeth and Scarborough outperformed their counterparts throughout much of southern Maine in the Scholastic Assessment Test.

Statewide, tests results released Thursday showed that over half of Maine’s 11th-graders have not mastered what they’re supposed to be learning.

Under a new testing program, the Scholastic Assessment Test, a national, standardized test used for college entrance applications, was given to 95 percent of the state’s 11th-graders as a replacement for a locally grown Maine Education Assessment.

Since all 11th-graders in 2006 were given the Scholastic Assessment Test – not just those headed for college – the statewide averages were expected to drop. But the good news was that, overall, scores were not as bad as expected, and more students were able to pass this assessment than the old one.

“We’ve been saying the minute you include all students our statewide (SAT) averages will go down,” said Education Commissioner Susan Gendron, but they didn’t go down as dramatically as predicted.

Statewide, the SAT average scores for last year’s 11th-graders were 444 for math, 443 for reading and 435 for writing out of possible scores of anywhere from 200 to 800. Based on those scores, 47 percent of 11th-graders statewide met the standard in math, 45 percent met the standard in reading and 46 percent met the standard in writing.

The average Cape Elizabeth scores were 560 in math, 544 in reading and 549 in writing. The tests show 87 percent met standards in math, 80 percent in reading and 87 percent in writing.

“Historically, our students take the SATs very seriously,” said Cape Elizabeth High School Principal Jeffrey Shedd. “We’re certainly pleased with the results,”

He added that the school department will continue to find ways to improve and help its students.

At Scarborough High School, the average SAT scores were 503 in math, 492 in reading and 495 in writing. The tests show 68 percent met standards in math, 64 percent in reading and 70 percent in writing.

Scarborough Superintendent David Doyle said Scarborough is bigger than towns like Cape Elizabeth and includes more students in the test.

“We’re pleased with the numbers that met standards,” said Doyle, “It’s good news, by and large.”

“Historically,” said Doyle, “over the past 15 years or so we’ve done better and better.”

He, too, said that the school department will continue to look at ways to help students who fail to meet standards.

Going forward, the SAT will be used under the federal No Child Left Behind Act to measure whether 11th-graders are making adequate yearly progress in mastering the skills they are supposed to have upon graduation. The SAT administration date for the 2006-’07 school year is Saturday, May 5, 2007.

The national average SAT scores for college-bound seniors last year were 503 for reading, 518 for math and 497 for writing. In Maine, those averages for college-bound kids were 501 for reading, 501 for math and 491 for writing.

“In three or four years, our scores will be in the 500-range for all kids,” Gendron promised, saying her goal was to make every student in Maine “college ready.”

Gendron’s use of the SAT as part of the testing series for No Child Left Behind was controversial and the federal government initially rejected the proposal. Gendron said the state is now on track to get federal approval by the end of this school year.

“It was a very deliberative decision by the Department of Education on behalf of students and families in the state of Maine,” to use the SAT, she said, because it pushes educators and students to make sure all Maine graduates are ready for college.

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