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Written by Chris Umpierre, News-Press

Florida's SAT scores improved this year but the Sunshine State continues to trail the nation on the popular college entrance exam, according to results released today by the College Board.

The annual SAT Report on College and Career Readiness highlights achievement scores on the SAT's reading, mathematics, and writing tests. Florida's average scores for the three tests were 492, 492 and 476. The average national scores were 496, 514 and 488.

Local district results haven't been released yet.

Florida's high school students improved as much as five points on each of the subsections of the test from 2011, and Florida's Hispanic students outperformed others nationwide. The mean score for Hispanic students in critical reading is 29 points higher than the nation, 13 points higher in mathematics, and 20 points higher in writing. Florida's black students increased their critical reading scores by seven points - while national performance remained unchanged.

"I am pleased that our students are improving their SAT performance. The data released today are proof that their hard work is preparing them for the next step in education and life," said Florida Commissioner of Education Pam Stewart.

Nationally, only 43 percent of SAT takers achieved a college-ready "benchmark" score according to the College Board. The benchmark, established by the College Board, is an average score of 1550 for the three exams, each of which is scored on an 800-point scale.

According to College Board research, the benchmark score is associated with higher rates of enrollment in four-year colleges, higher first-year college GPAs and higher rates of retention beyond the first year. The College Board didn't release a state-by-state breakdown of the percentage of students achieving its benchmark.

"This report should serve as a call to action to expand access to rigor for more students," said College Board President Gaston Caperton. "Our nation's future depends on the strength of our education system. When less than half of kids who want to go to college are prepared to do so, that system is failing. We must make education a national priority and deliver rigor to more students."