Average national scores on two of the three sections of the SAT college entrance exam edged down for the high school class of 2012.
Average scores on the critical reading and writing sections fell one point each, to 496 and 488, respectively, while math scores were steady at 514, indicating stagnant achievement overall in a gradually widening and increasingly diverse pool of test-takers. The maximum score on each section is 800, and 360 students nationwide scored a perfect 2,400.
Scores for Florida's college-bound seniors mostly tracked the national scores.
The College Board, the nonprofit membership organization of schools and colleges that owns the exam, said in its annual SAT report Monday that only 43 percent of test-takers met a benchmark score indicating a 65 percent likelihood they can achieve a B-minus average during the first year of college. The figure was unchanged from a year ago.
"When less than half of kids who want to go to college are prepared to do so, that system is failing," said Gaston Caperton, president of the New York-based College Board.
Males continued to score slightly better on critical reading and math, and females better on writing. This year's SAT figures also continued to show substantial gaps between racial groups. Asian-Americans, for instance, scored on average 595 in math — 59 points higher than white students and 167 higher than black students.