Students who graduated from Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) in 2015 earned an average SAT score 21 points lower than the average of the year before.

Interim MCPS Superintendent Larry Bowers said in a press release that the test results, which came out this week, “bolster our sense of urgency” to improve literacy and math skills in the state’s biggest school system.

Bowers said the county’s Board of Education has made those areas “a strategic priority” this year.

The average combined score of 1,629 for the Class of 2015 was higher than the 1,462 average for the state of Maryland or the 1,490 average for 2015 graduates nationwide.

But county graduates’ average score on the popular college admissions exam has dropped eight points since 2011. Average scores across the state and the nation have fallen by 30 points and 10 points, respectively, in that same period.

Among individual high schools, students at Poolesville High School fared best on the SAT, with an average combined score of 1,886. Walt Whitman High School Class of 2015 graduates scored an average of 1,872, followed by students at Winston Churchill High School (1,836) and Thomas S. Wootton (1,830).


Average Class of 2015 SAT scores by school, via MCPS

The College Board, which runs the SAT, is making significant changes to the test including the elimination of the writing section that will go into effect in spring 2016 and impact current high school sophomores and juniors.


The average score for MCPS graduates on the SAT’s critical reading section was 542, down five points from 2014. The average score for the math section was 554, down six points, and the average writing section score was 533, down nine points.

“We need to study this data to better understand why we saw a decline in performance this year and determine how we can better prepare all our students for success after high school,” Bowers said.

Performance among black students declined by seven points, resulting in an average score of 1,396, when compared to 2014 scores. Performance among Hispanic students remained at an average score of 1,461.


The average SAT score for white students was 1,756 and for Asian students was 1,772.

As SAT performance and participation slipped (SAT participation has fallen nearly 3 percentage points since 2011), performance and participation on the ACT, another popular college admission test, has increased among MCPS students.