NACOGDOCHES –The average standardized test scores of Stephen F. Austin State University freshmen are on the rise, surpassing the state average on the SAT and exceeding both the state and national averages on the ACT.
The average SAT score of freshmen entering SFA in fall 2012 is 1,005, 32 points higher than the state average score of 973. The average score for SFA freshmen in 2011 was 974.The class’ average ACT score is 21.4, up from 20.7 in 2011 and edging out the 2012 state and national averages of 20.8 and 21.1, respectively.
First-year students entering SFA this fall were required to meet higher academic standards than any previously admitted students. The new admission standards were approved by the SFA Board of Regents in January 2010 based on recommendations from a university committee appointed to study the issue.
"The increase in admission standards will improve our retention and graduation rates," said Dr. Richard Berry, provost and vice president for academic affairs. "Those rates are often used in measuring an institution's success, and it's important to us that the students we bring to campus are academically prepared for the rigors of university study."
In addition to increased admission standards and higher freshman scores on standardized tests, SFA has reported significant gains in the graduation rate of Hispanic students. In 2004, the institution was graduating 23.3 percent of Hispanic students within six years. By 2010, six-year graduation rates for Hispanic students had risen more than 16 points to 40.1 percent.
SFA is one of the “top 25 gainers” among the studied American public institutions of higher learning in the area of Hispanic graduation rates, according to a September report by The Education Trust. Texas Tech University is the only other Texas institution included on the list.
Closing the Gaps by 2015 was adopted in October 2000 by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board with strong support from the state's educational, business and political communities. The plan is directed at closing educational gaps in Texas, as well as between Texas and other states. It has four goals: to close the gaps in student participation, student success, excellence and research.
“We are very pleased with the progress we have made in increasing the six-year graduate rate for Hispanic students,” Berry said. “It is good to have evidence that the measures we have established to assist students down the pathway to degree completion are effective. SFA is dedicated to doing our part in the state’s Closing the Gaps initiative.”
The Education Trust is a nonprofit advocacy organization that promotes high academic achievement for students at all levels and works to close gaps in opportunity and achievement affecting African-American, Hispanic, American Indian and low-income families.