Darien students are known for creating and obtaining high standards set for them, so it should come as no surprise that Darien High School seniors again achieved the highest 2014 Scholastic Aptitude Test scores in the state.

On average, the 300 Darien High School seniors who took the test in the 2013-14 school year achieved an average score of 1,799 out of 2,400.

"We are delighted that our students performed well on the SAT and it is clear that many schools across the state have reason to be proud of their students as well," said Darien High School Principal Ellen Dunn in an email. "It is important to remember that this is only one indicator of success and that we are privileged to experience the achievements of our students in so many ways every day at Darien High School."

Darien ranked first in 2013 -- with an average score of 1,814 -- and 2012 -- with an average score of 1,776 -- according to state records.

Top administrators in the district echoed Dunn's comments.

"Darien students continue to perform well on this assessment and it certainly speaks to the effort and the dedication that they have to their learning experience," said Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction Tim Canty.

Canty said there is a connection between the students' performance and the K-12 curriculum.

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Comparison with District Reference Group A high schools, including rank in state:
1. Darien High School: 1,799
2. Wilton High School: 1,795
3. Weston High School: 1,784
4. New Canaan High School: 1,771
5. Staples High School: 1,767
6. Ridgefield High School: 1,754
8. Joel Barlow High School: 1,721

"This is a town -- like our surrounding towns -- that certainly places a strong emphasis on education, our community supports education, kids are motivated, and parents are supportive," Canty said.

Interim Superintendent Lynne Pierson said the grades, which she said are only one indicator of student performance, reveal that the district has very "capable and committed students."

"We're very pleased that our students did so well and performed well on the SATs," Pierson said.

In reading, the average score for all public school seniors in Connecticut was 499. In Darien, it was 588.

In math, the average score for Connecticut public schools was 500, compared to the average score of 600 in Darien. In writing, all public school seniors in the state averaged a score of 500, compared to a score of 600 in Darien.

Among all Connecticut high school seniors, public and private, the average SAT score slipped a bit from 2013 to 2014. The biggest drop was in writing, where the average score fell from 512 to 508. In math, there was a 2-point decline to 510 and in reading the slip was by a point to 507.

Combined, that makes a score of 1,525 for Connecticut higher than the combined national score of 1,497. Both averages fall short of the 1,550 score that the College Board deems as "college ready" and not in need of taking a remedial course. Nationwide, only 42.6 percent of students had a combined score that high.

Nationwide in 2014, among all students, the average reading score was 497, the average math score 513 and average writing score 487 -- each a point lower than for the Class of 2013 but statistically the same, according to College Board officials.

The shift in focus comes as the SAT -- which has been losing ground to the rival ACT -- faces its second major redesign in as many decades. In 2005, the SAT added a writing test and went from a 1,600-point test to 2,400. In 2016, the essay will become optional, points won't be deducted for wrong answers, obscure vocabulary words will be scratched and the test will revert to a 1,600-point scale. The idea is make it more aligned to skills students are expected to know in order to do well in college.

Even as the number of high school seniors taking the test increases to more than 1.67 million for the Class of 2014, the number of colleges making the submission of an SAT score optional grows annually. At last count, there were more than 800 higher-education institutions nationwide that make SAT submission optional, according to FairTest, a group highly critical of standardized tests.

The Board of Education is set to discuss the results of the SATs and the Advanced Placement tests at its Tuesday, Oct. 14 meeting at 7:30 p.m. in the 35 Leroy Ave. meeting room.

mspicer@bcnnew.com; 203-330-6583; @Meg_DarienNews