While statewide SAT scores for the graduating class of 2010 have dropped compared to the previous year, about half of Middle Georgia’s school systems have followed suit. Others have improved on their scores from 2009.
In Georgia, the class of 2010 averaged1,453 points on the SAT of a possible 2,400 points, according to a report released by the state Department of Education on Monday. That score dropped from 1,460 points in 2009. The national average was 1,509 points, with no change from last year. The test, administered to college-bound students across the nation, includes three sections: critical reading, math and writing.
With an average SAT score of 1,292, Bibb County scored lower than this year’s state and national averages. But almost all of the system’s schools saw improvements in their scores compared to last year.
Northeast and Rutland high schools, as well as the Hutchings Career Center, each saw increases of more than 50 points between 2010 and last year in their overall scores. Central High School’s black and white subpopulations outperformed the nation’s black and white subpopulations.
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Southwest and Westside high schools, however, saw 42 and 102 point decreases, respectively, in their overall SAT scores.
“We’re very proud of our students for continuing to improve their ability to perform on this test, as well as our students that outperformed their peers across the nation,” Kathy Reese, Bibb’s interim deputy superintendent for teaching and learning, said in a news release. “Of course, the results still have much room for improvement as they lag behind the state, and there is still a need to close the achievement gap.”
Building the students’ skills and providing more training for teachers has helped the system’s SAT scores, Reese said in a telephone interview.
“There’s more focus on SAT prep and pinpointing students taking the exam,” said Reese. “We’re encouraging more students to take the test, and (they) should be looking at postsecondary options.”
Reese also credits the gains to the system’s Teachers as Advisors program, where educators work with students on their grades and assist students on the Georgia High School Graduation Test, the SAT and other standardized tests, as well as providing more career and guidance for options after high school.
Bibb County’s middle and high school teachers have received more training and professional learning for the program, Reese said.
In Houston County, students in the system scored higher than the state average overall, as they did in 2009. Students in the district averaged 1,473 points, besting the state average by 20 points.
Systemwide, the students also outscored the state on their combined critical reading and math scores, receiving 1,002 points over the state’s 978 points. However, Houston County, Northside, Perry and Warner Robins high schools all saw drops in their overall scores compared to 2009.
One of the areas the system plans to focus on in the next year is student writing scores, said Eric Payne, Houston’s assistant superintendent for teaching and learning.
“We’re pleased with our scores being higher than the state average,” said Payne. “We like to compare ourselves in an area bigger than Georgia — other states as well.”
More students in Houston County took the SAT in 2010 than the year before, Payne said, mirroring the trend across Georgia as a whole. Across the state, about 66,000 students in the class of 2010 took the SAT, about 3,000 more than in 2009, according to data from the state.
Houston County’s success lies in classroom preparation that begins in elementary and middle school, as well as implementing standards-based instruction, he said. Educators use the PSAT to help assess student strengths and weaknesses as well, Payne said.
“We’re better prepared,” he said. “One tool is the SAT score. That’s just one snapshot compared to all the many snapshots we have.”
Baldwin, Crawford and Pulaski counties were among those that saw decreases in SAT scores in 2010 compared to the year before. Bleckley and Peach counties, on the other hand, both had increases of more than 100 points in the same one-year span.