Published January 1978 — Download PDF of the original newspaper column
Byrd's-Eye View By U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd Why West Virginia Students Score Higher West Virginians can be proud of the fact that college-bound students in our state had higher Scholastic Aptitude Test scores this past year than those of students in the rest of the nation. The National Report of the College Entrance Examination Board and the College Board Summary for West Virginia have both recently published the average student scores in both math and verbal sections of the tests. West Virginia students average 30 points above the national average in both areas. Parents, teachers, and students have good reason to be pleased with those higher scores. They should also be interested in the parts of the reports which compile and analyze the answers to questions which the students were asked about themselves, their schools, their grades, and their activities. These summaries turned up some very interesting differences in students in various parts of the nation. They reveal some clues to the higher academic aptitude scores of West Virginians. High school grade records in math, English, foreign language, science, and social studies averaged higher in West Virginia than they did nationwide, in every subject. This emphasis on basics helped produce better scores, and, therefore, better college opportunities for these young people. Another difference was in the goals which students themselves reported. A higher percentage of those who took these tests in West Virginia reported goals of a postgraduate degree or graduate school work. In today's complex and highly technical world, that is certainly another plus for our school system and our students. Most surprising of all is the marked difference reported in the number of students who participated in church or community activities. Nationally, only 23 percent reported having been "leaders" in these groups, and only 62 percent thought their own participation had been more than nominal. West Virginians, however, indicated that 35 percent had been "leaders," and an amazing 75 percent were more than nominally involved in their churches or in community activities. This sharp difference in non-school activity of a community & religious nature indicates a strong and supportive home and community, and the encouragement of participation by young people. That may explain a good deal about why West Virginia's students do better than others on scholastic aptitude tests.