August 31, 2004
New Mexico Public Education Department
300 Don Gaspar
Santa Fe, NM 87501-2786

Ruth Williams
Legislative Liaison
(505) 827-7803 or
Pager: 988-0582

College-Bound Students Outperform Nation on SAT as
Achievement Gap Closes for American Indians, Blacks

(Santa Fe, NM)--New Mexico’s college-bound students scored higher in 2004 than their national peers on the SAT® I (Scholastic Assessment Test), a major college entrance examination measuring verbal and math reasoning skills. Students averaged a score of 554 on the verbal portion of the test and 543 on the math portion, compared with national averages of 508 on the verbal and 518 on the math. New Mexico’s scores increased by six points in verbal and three points in math over 2003, with the verbal score reaching a six-year high.

  2004 New Mexico 2004 Nation 2003 New Mexico Change from Last Year

“This growth is extremely encouraging. The bar has been raised in New Mexico, and the early results are promising. We must continue this momentum and not rest until the achievement gap is eliminated. All students can achieve at high levels,” said Secretary of Education Dr. Veronica C. García.

The verbal score for American Indians (three percent of test-takers) reached a five-year high, and five-year highs were seen in the math scores for American Indians and Blacks (2.1% of test-takers). The American Indian verbal score (475) grew by 46 points and the math score (487) grew by 68 points over 2003. For Blacks, the verbal score (496) grew by 12 points and the math score (507) grew by 50 points.

  2004 American Indians Change from Last Year 2004 Blacks Change from Last Year

Blacks, Hispanics (14.6% of test-takers) and Whites (49.1% of test-takers) outscored their national peers in both verbal and math. Nationally, Blacks scored 430 in verbal and 427 in math. Hispanics scored 456 in verbal and 460 in math, compared to 514 in verbal and 502 in math in New Mexico. Whites scored 528 in verbal and 531 in math, compared to 565 in verbal and 552 in math in New Mexico.

The College Board reports that 14 percent of New Mexico’s high school graduates, or 2,738 students, including 77 percent from public schools, took the SAT.

The scores of the state’s public school college-bound students also exceeded the national average. The average verbal and math scores for these test-takers were 546 and 535, respectively, as compared to national averages for public school students of 504 on the verbal portion and 513 on the math portion.

Asian (4.1% of test-takers), Black (2.4% of test-takers), Hispanic (15.1% of test-takers) and White (50.7% of test-takers) public school scores exceed those of their national peers. Black public school graduates in New Mexico made dramatic gains – 24 points on the verbal, for a score of 477, and 56 points on the math, for a score of 486.

The majority of test-takers (87%), including public school students, had taken four or more years of English. Seventy-one percent had taken four or more years of math. But only 47% had taken four or more years of natural sciences and 43% had taken four or more years of social science and history.

Students with four or more years of study in the core academic areas scored higher than those with less than four years of study.

“The more rigorous a student’s educational experience, the more prepared he or she will be for future opportunities, including college. It is critical for every student to be given the opportunity to reach new heights in learning,” said Secretary Dr. García.

Students indicated an interest in studying health and allied services, engineering, social sciences and history, visual and performing arts and business and commerce, among others.

Half of test-takers sent score reports to the University of New Mexico and 24% sent score reports to New Mexico State University. The other colleges in the top five were the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, Colorado State University and Arizona State University.