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KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — Defense Department school students recorded higher SAT scores than last year, improving in math but still lagging behind the exam’s national average in the subject.

Department of Defense Education Activity students scored better overall on the college entrance exam than seniors nationwide, bucking a huge drop in SAT scores throughout the nation in 2006.

Janet Rope, DODEA administrator for system accountability and research in Arlington, Va., said school officials have reason to be pleased with the overall scores. This is the first year students took a slightly longer test, which included a new writing section.

“When the national average goes down, it is nice to see ours when it is up,” Rope said.

Defense Department schools students scored a combined average score of 1,529 on the math, critical reading and writing sections compared to the national average of 1,518, according to DODEA statistics. Seven Defense Department students earned a perfect 800 on the critical reading portion, six got the highest score on math and two aced the new writing test.

Nearly 1.5 million high school students took the exam, which is required by many colleges and universities.

The 2,115 DODEA high school students’ scores in math saw the largest jump, from 505 to 512. That’s 15 points better than in 2002 but still below this year’s national average of 518.

Students at Defense Department schools in Europe scored 14 points higher in writing and 20 points higher in reading than the national average but also trailed the national average in math by two points.

The steady increase in math scores in the past five years shows that math-improvement programs in the schools are probably making a difference, Rope said.

“It’s lower than the national average, but it is a nice jump,” she said of the seven-point gain in the section compared to last year.

She attributed the higher overall scores to the many students who take the practice test. The Defense Department schools system pays for 10th- and 11th-graders to take the practice test. Parents must pay for the test that counts.

A total of 1,221 students took the SAT in Europe, said Carol Czerw, the education chief for Department of Defense Dependents Schools in Europe.

About 70 percent of the high school seniors in both Europe and Pacific regions took the test, only a slight decline from last year.

Both black students and Hispanic students who attend Defense Department schools scored higher than their peers in the nation. Black students scored 24 points higher in reading, 16 points higher in math and 19 points higher in writing, according to DODEA statistics. Hispanic students scored 31 points higher on the critical reading portion and 24 points higher on writing.

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