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DoD Schools Encourage Maximum Participation in SATs

By Staff Sgt. Kathleen T. Rhem, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 15, 2000 – Students in DoD schools scored slightly below the national average on the Scholastic Aptitude Test this year, but officials said there's more to the numbers than meets the eye.

Department of Defense Education Activity students more than hold their own, said Janet Rope, chief of DoDEA's Office of System Accountability. The SAT is given in 800-point tests of verbal and math skills. DoDEA students scored an average of 504 in verbal skills compared to 505 nationally; DoDEA's math average was 500 vs. 514 nationally.

Rope advised parents to focus on the high participation rate of test takers in DoD schools -- 64 percent in DoDEA vs. only 43 percent nationally. The rates are important because the students who take college entrance exams generally tend to be the best in their schools. So, she said, 64 percent of DoD students compare favorably with the top 43 percent of students in America.

"We could raise our scores quickly by discouraging kids from taking the SAT. We don't want to do that," Rope said. "We help our kids aim at the highest levels of advanced education. We encourage as many kids as possible to take the SAT, and consequently we live with a slightly lower average score."

Rope said DoDEA's scores are even more encouraging for minority students. African-American students nationally and in DoDEA averaged 434 in the verbal test, but DoDEA students outscored those nationally 452 to 426 in math. DoDEA's participation rate for African-American students was 44 percent; nationally 40 percent took the test.

DoD's Hispanic students outperformed the national average on all fronts: the 61 percent of Hispanic students in DoD schools who took the test averaged 463 in math and 475 in the verbal portion. The national participation rate of only 42 percent averaged 461 in verbal and 457 in math.

Rope said the higher percentage of test takers among DoDEA students reflects the military's emphasis on higher education. Counselors in overseas schools often encourage their students to participate in online college fairs even though they're physically far away from the schools, she noted. Also, the DoD schools provide students with computers and Internet access, and some hold their own college fairs for students, she added.

"The military encourages higher education," Rope said. "These kids are surrounded by people who believe education is the way you get ahead in this world."

For more information of DoD schools, visit DoDEA's Web site at http://www.odedodea.edu/.

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