The State Department of Education released the SAT scores for juniors for 2017 this week, and Darien stood above the rest. The Darien juniors had an average score of 1260, which was the best average score of any district in the Connecticut. The state average was 1031 out of a maximum score of 1600.

"As educators, we are privileged to work with exceptional young men and women who never cease to shine in the classroom, on the stage and on the field and these excellent test scores are only one measure of their success," said DHS Principal Ellen Dunn.

Nearly 95% of Darien test takers were at level 3 or 4 in the English portion, and 85% reached that mark in math. These levels are indicators of mastery and preparedness for college in the particular subject.

The SAT was offered free of charge this year, and nearly 40,000 juniors took the test. Beyond now being free, the essay portion of the test is now optional, and the test focuses on understanding words in context rather than simply asking students to memorize vocabulary words.

There are no more penalties for incorrect answers. Previously, an incorrect answer would cause points to be taken away from a student’s score. This meant that leaving a question blank would result in earning no points, but the student would avoid the penalty of a potentially incorrect answer.

There was improvement across the state, as all test takers showed improvement in both in the English and math portions of the test. The average score on the English portion was 524, compared to 520 last year. In the math portion, the average score was 507, up from last year’s 502. State officials are positive about this improvement. Dunn acknowledged the statewide improvement alongside the strong performance of DHS students saying, "We are delighted to see that our students performed so well on the SAT and the report indicates that many schools across our state have reason to celebrate the achievements of their students."

However, less affluent students are still far behind wealthier students, and black and hispanic scores are below those of white and Asian students. This achievement gap has been a long focus of education officials, and the SAT improvement is seen as only one small part of closing that gap.

Schools Superintendent Dan Brenner was out of the office and unavailable for comment.