The pandemic took its toll on college assessment tests taken by high school students in New Jersey, according to the school report cards released by the state this week.

The data in the report reflects that about 60% fewer students took the PSAT, 35% fewer took the SAT, 40% fewer took a special education assessment and 30% fewer took an assessment for English-language learners.

Among those who did take the tests, performance was up. The average combined score on the PSAT climbed from 949 in 2019-20 to 1020 in 2020-21, and it rose from 1072 to 1117 on the SAT. The ACT average score went up in math, reading and science and was level in English.

It’s possible the higher average scores could reflect that it was generally the most committed students who took the exams.

“Most of the impacts are decreases in overall participation, with some areas seeing larger impacts than others,” Assistant Education Commissioner Kathy Ehling said.

Average SAT scores for all NJ high schools, 2020-21

Average SAT scores for the 2020-2021 school year are listed by county, from highest to lowest. Data includes the combined score, as well as the average scores on the math and reading/writing sections.

Participation rates show the share of 12th graders in the Class of 2021 who took the SAT in 2020-21 or in prior years.

High schools aren't listed if there is no data or the number of students participating was low enough that average scores were not publicly reported to protect student privacy.

Reports for the state, each district and each public school can be accessed on the state Department of Education website or through

Michael Symons is the Statehouse bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at

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