On the most widely taken college entrance exam in America, DODDS-Pacific students outperformed their peers in the United States on verbal skills but continued to lag slightly in math.

Department of Defense Dependents Schools-Pacific officials released the 2005 SAT results Friday for Japan, Korea, Guam and Okinawa school districts.

As a group, the students scored 509 on math and 511 on verbal, compared to the national math average of 520 and 508 on verbal.

The College Board, which administers the SAT, says results can predict student success in the first year of college and beyond. It’s among key factors college admissions officers weigh when evaluating students’ applications.

The Pacific’s scores mirrored a trend across all Defense Department schools: Worldwide this year, Department of Defense Education Activity schools averaged 505 in math and 514 in verbal.

“Relatively low math scores are a system-wide phenomenon,” David Doss, DODDS Pacific assessment and evaluation coordinator, wrote in an SAT report analyzing this year’s results.

Since at least 1998, DODEA students as a whole have scored below the national average on the SAT math portion.

Doss noted that students receive just part of their education in DODEA. “It makes it difficult to assess any kind of long-term impact because our kids come and go,” he said in an interview.

“My impression is math has forever been a weaker area for us and language has tended to be a stronger area.”

The SAT, he added, measures skills developed over a lifetime and is “relatively insensitive to instruction. All sorts of influences developed before the current school year are impacting how a student scores on the SAT.”

But “certainly our math instruction — any area of instruction — can always be improved.”

DODEA seems to be trying to do just that in math. In the past two years, the school system has focused on math principles with “Math Matters,” a theme that’s shaped classroom instruction and development opportunities for teachers, stated a May 2005 message from Dr. Nancy Bresell, director, DODDS Pacific/Domestic Dependent Elementary and Secondary Schools- Guam.

DODDS students now must take algebra to graduate, Doss noted. Algebra, geometry and advanced math lab courses are available for students struggling with math. DODEA also plans to implement revised math standards for school year 2006-07.

And students can prepare for the SAT by taking the PSAT, Doss said. “We give the PSAT to all of our students in grades 10 and 11,” he said.

Still, Doss said, many variables impact SAT results. For example, statistics show that usually, the more students who take the test, the lower a school’s score.

“We have a higher-than-average participation rate” than nationally, Doss said, adding that socioeconomic status also is a factor. “As a general rule, students from a higher-income family, with parents with a higher education, tend to score higher.”

In South Korea, where students averaged the highest math and verbal scores in DODDS Pacific this year, 69 percent of students come from families of officers, DODDS educators or civilians in positions rated GS-10 or above, Doss noted. That compares with 36 percent in the other districts.

By the numbers

A breakdown of scores from the 2005 SAT showed that of the 685 students who took the exam in the Pacific:

37 students in Guam averaged 511 in verbal and 492 in math.273 students in Japan averaged 510 in verbal and 498 in math.199 students in South Korea averaged 516 in verbal and 534 in math.176 students on Okinawa averaged 504 on verbal and 501 in math.Other results from the 2005 SAT:

The DODDS-Pacific average was 511 in verbal and 509 in math.The national average was 508 in verbal and 520 in math.The DODEA average was 514 in verbal and 505 in math.Source: DODDS Pacific

author picture
Jennifer reports on the U.S. military from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where she writes about the Air Force, Army and DODEA schools. She’s had previous assignments for Stars and Stripes in Japan, reporting from Yokota and Misawa air bases. Before Stripes, she worked for daily newspapers in Wyoming and Colorado. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive a daily email of today's top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign Up Now