Minority students in overseas DODDS schools outscore U.S. peers in SAT
September 4, 2003
SAT I Results for DoDEA,
DDESS, DoDDS, and the U.S.
SAT I Results
for African-American Students
Nation Verbal 433 430 431
SAT I Results
for Hispanic Students
Nation Verbal 455 452 452
ARLINGTON, Va. — Students in the military’s overseas school system continue to take a standard college entrance exam in greater numbers than their stateside peers; and minority students of the Department of Defense Dependents Schools, or DODDS, also outperformed their peers, education officials said.
Of eligible DODDS students, 74 percent took the SAT this spring, versus 48 percent of their stateside counterparts.
“It all goes back to the high expectations we have for our students,” said Janet Rope, administrator for accountability, accreditation, research and evaluation at the Department of Defense Education Activity, which runs the military’s school system. “Parents have high expectations, and we have put a large focus on … college.”
The schools system also offers support classes in critical subjects of reading and algebra, which makes the students better prepared and more apt to take the test. Students have to pay the $28.50 fee to take the SAT.
The SAT, typically taken in students’ junior and senior years of high school, measures verbal and math-reasoning skills that education officials have said predicts how well students will perform in college.
Military black students scored 31 points higher than national peers on the verbal test, and 21 points higher in math. At the national level, black students’ scores remained static over the past three years, while DODEA students gained 16 points on the verbal test in 2003 compared to two years ago, and raised the math score by 24 points.
Hispanic students outperformed stateside counterparts by 23 points on the verbal test, were one point below stateside students in math, and increased their math and verbal scores by a few points since 2002.
The reasons minority students do better can be traced to several reasons, Rope said. For one, the military life ensures that at least one parent is employed, and offers families an economic advantage.
“A lot of poor readers don’t have books at home, and a military member is in a position to afford things that people without jobs can’t afford,” Rope said. “Minority [servicemembers] see the military as an opportunity to get ahead, and support and push their kids to do the same. They say ‘I pushed myself, you can, too.’”
And classrooms tend to be smaller than in some stateside schools.
“In some extremely large schools in the United States, it’s easy for a group of kids to become disenfranchised from the academic program and do some coasting,” Rope said. “But when a teacher knows your name, when classmates know your name, … in ways, there is a family feeling and families support each other.”
Overall, DODEA student scores on the verbal test increased by five points from 504 in 2002 to 509 in 2003. Results on the math test increased one point from 497 in 2002.
DODDS students scored lower than stateside peers on the math portion of the exam, with scores of 500 and 519, respectively. Overseas students were three points higher than stateside students in the verbal portion with a score of 510.
Perfect scores for each section is 800. Three students from the Pacific theater, two from Europe and one from Defense Domestic Dependent Elementary and Secondary Schools, or DDESS, the military’s stateside schools, earned perfect scores of 800 on the verbal test. Two students each from Pacific and Europe earned top scores of 800 in math.
DODDS students increased in the verbal score by four points and matched their math score from 2002. DDESS students showed an increase of nine points on the verbal test and a five-point increase in math.
DDESS students, however, typically take another college entrance exam, the ACT, and thus their participation numbers in the SAT, at 40 percent, is much lower that DODDS student numbers.